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The Colleges : Chapman Will Drop 6 Sports and Stay in NCAA Division II

Times Staff Writer

Chapman College will eliminate six sports from its athletic program while it continues to compete on the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Division II level, school officials announced Thursday.

Men’s volleyball, women’s tennis, men’s and women’s cross-country and men’s and women’s track and field will be dropped beginning the 1989-90 school year.

The decision by the school’s board of trustees came after months of speculation that the school would drop to Division III. Some school officials felt that the college would be more competitive at the lower division.

“We have a much clearer direction and a mandate from the board which we’ve not had in a long time,” Chapman’s acting President Jim Doti said Thursday. “We can put behind us the ongoing questions about what level we should be at.”

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Men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, baseball, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s tennis and water polo will remain as intercollegiate sports.

Coaches of the eliminated sports will not have their contracts renewed, Doti said. Charlie Appell is the coach of men’s and women’s cross-country and men’s and women’s track and field, John Hancock is the coach of women’s tennis and John Burns is the coach of men’s volleyball. Only Appell was a full-time coach.

Appell’s contract expires on Aug. 31, Hancock’s and Burns’ contracts end May 31.

“Even though we’re remaining Division II, it’s not a day for celebration,” Athletic Director Walt Bowman said. “We’re losing some good friends.”

Appell said: “They didn’t tell me why (my sports are being cut), they never do. I have already done my scheduling for next fall. Until 2 days ago, I didn’t think there was anything to worry about.”

Doti said the decision to cut the sports was based on student involvement and spectator appeal.

“Those sports did not enhance--as others do--the student life on campus,” Doti said. “The programs we kept have the potential for success.”

By eliminating the six sports, the school will be in a better financial position, according to Bowman.

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However, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and baseball will be the only sports to offer scholarships.

Bowman also said the women’s basketball coach would become a full-time position next year. Current women’s Coach Paul Kahn is a part-time employee. Kahn has guided the Panthers into the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament in each of his 2 seasons at Chapman.

But Bowman said the school will conduct a “nationwide search” for a women’s coach, as well as a men’s basketball coach to replace Kevin Wilson, who was fired in November.

“I feel I’ve earned the full-time position,” Kahn said. “But, so far Walt hasn’t talked to me about the situation.”

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Bowman said that Kahn and Rich Prospero, who is the men’s interim basketball coach, were welcome to apply for the positions.

The other sports that have been retained--softball, men’s soccer, men’s tennis and water polo--will receive funding, but beginning next fall, athletes in those sports will not receive scholarships. Athletes already under scholarship will continue to receive funds.

There are no athletes under scholarship in the sports that were eliminated, Bowman said.

Bowman did not say how many scholarships the school would offer next school year, only that “it’s below the NCAA limit.”

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The announcement ends weeks of speculation and concern among the members of the school’s athletic department.

“This place has been extremely tense for days,” one coach said. “Everyone’s been on edge.”

School officials said they delayed the release of the decision until everyone in the athletic department could be informed. Bowman met with coaches Thursday afternoon and then with the student-athletes.

“We wanted our people to hear about it from the school first,” Bowman said. “And we wanted time to anticipate any questions.”

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