February 10, 2020 – Washington Co., WI – It was an end of an era Saturday, February 8 at UWM at Washington County as the final regular season men’s basketball game was played at the University in West Bend.
It was April 12, 2019 when the interim dean sent a letter to faculty and staff at UWM at Washington County announcing the conference athletic programs would be cut at the University in Washington County in 2020-2021.
A copy of the letter is posted below.
Prior to tip off against UW-Green Bay / Marinette the men’s team recognized their parents and Athletic Director Deb Butschlick paid tribute to several emeritus faculty who were great supporters of athletics for over 50 years including Gary Britton, Ed Dommisse, Wayne Schaefer, Joe Diamanti, Roger Peterson, Thomas Brigham, Scott Poole, Russ Thull, Steve Murphy and Art Gearhardt.
After the first half, former coaches and Wildcat supporters talked about the importance of athletics in education.
Ed Dommisse – “When we came to this campus in 1968 it was Tom Brigham who did everything possible to bring athletics to the school. Over the years a very healthy program developed. It was certainly looked up to by students as one of the better programs in the 2-year campus system.”
Gary Britton – “What the athletic program did was the collegiality and increasing communication between faculty and students. It made for a complete well-rounded education and campus experience. It’s something that, unfortunately will be missed a lot.”
Roger Peterson – “I always thought our athletic program was the gem of the UW system. We do athletics the right way; it’s for the young adults.”
Wayne Schaefer – “We’ve had Tom with us since the beginning and he’s done an amazing job developing this program. Right by his side has been Debbie Butschlick and she’s the heart and soul of this institution. We’ve been fortunate to have such great guidance. It’s brought a real spirit of unity.”
Tom Brigham – “The gym was originally built in 1982. From 1968 – 1982 all our athletic events that needed courts were utilizing the City or School District facilities. We used whatever we could. By the mid-1970s Title 9 came in and then it was extremely hard to get court time for men and women. Fortunately we’ve had a very supportive city and county government. There’s always been a comradeship between faculty and students. Our athletic teams have been very successful over the years. Deb Butchlick was a student athlete and then I hired her as a coach and she went up the ladder and she was named athletic director and she’s done a very good job with it.
“Athletics have been very important on this campus and we’re very disappointed UWM has decided they want to sunset this program. It’s going to be missed by a lot of students and faculty as well.”
An invitation had been sent to interim dean Stephen E. Schmid and other administration at UWM regarding Saturday’s game. Nobody involved in making the decision to cut the athletic program showed up.
University administrators in Milwaukee said they will work with the student governance associations to create a 2020-21 plan for club sports and wellness programs that they hope will result in a healthier student population.
Dear College of General Studies Faculty and Staff,
UWM at Washington County and UWM at Waukesha will be making changes to their athletics programs over the next two years to increase participation in club sports and serve more students. The current competitive conference athletics program involves less than 5 percent of students at Waukesha and 10 percent at Washington County. The current competitive conference athletics program will remain the same for next year. Next fall, we will start planning for the shift to club sports and wellness programs in academic year 2020-2021.
The move to sunset competitive conference athletics at the end of the 2019-20 academic year is driven by several factors. Declining enrollments have resulted in declining segregated fee revenues, leaving less funding for non-athletics student life activities and personnel. For this academic year, athletics segregated fee budgets account for approximately 50 percent of all collected segregated fee revenues at Washington County and more than 30 percent at Waukesha. Second, with the end of the UW Colleges, the Wisconsin Collegiate Conference will be unfunded and effectively terminated next year. Continuing support for this conference will incur additional costs to both campuses. Finally, you may know that our coaches have often struggled in many sports to recruit enough students to form a team. On average over the past three years, Washington County has had 60 student athletes per year, and Waukesha 68, with some sports not running this past year due to lack of interest.
Recognizing decreased revenues from segregated fees, the student governance associations at both Washington County and Waukesha voted to cut funding for athletics in 2019-20 to help address a $110,000 shortfall in student segregated fees for the two campuses. Next year, we will work with the student governance associations to create a 2020-21 plan for club sports and wellness programs that we hope will result in a healthier student population.
We met with athletic directors for the two campuses yesterday afternoon, notifying them of these changes. We hope you will join with us in thanking them for their dedication and service over the years.
While change is difficult, we are optimistic the new programs being developed will serve a larger portion of our students and provide the best possible experience for them, while being mindful of the need to keep education affordable.