Furman to keep men's golf team alive after alumni jump in with support
The Paladins rode to the rescue.
Furman University said in a statement Tuesday that its men's golf team won't be eliminated after all, thanks to "the outstanding generosity of the school's many golf alumni to provide short-term operating funds and to establish an endowment for scholarships."
The alumni response "provides the necessary financial support to sustain the men's golf program at a highly competitive level while allowing the University to retain the cost reductions realized by the board's original decision," said Interim President Carl Kohrt.
Officials at Furman, long a small-college golf powerhouse, announced earlier this month that they would discontinue men's golf after this spring season. The Greensville, S.C., school's Board of Trustees made the decision after concluding that its money and athletic department resources could be better used elsewhere. They said several factors – including public visibility, attendance, competitiveness and overall costs – figured in the decision.
Within a week, a number of prominent alumni began exploring ways to keep the team alive.
More than 50 former golfers – including Brad Faxon, the team's most prominent graduate – held a teleconference with Kohrt and Athletic Director Gary Clark to discuss ways to salvage the program for at least one more season and secure its long-term future. Kohrt suggested that the group come up with a plan sooner rather than later, and obviously they did.
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The school didn't announce how much money it needed, or how much was promised. But Faxon – an All-American at Furman in 1982 and 1983 – said the university and the alumni group worked hard to find a solution that benefitted everybody.
"We are all proud alums of the Furman golf program, and none of us wanted to see it discontinued," Faxon said in the statement. "So we talked with university officials, and discussed what we could do to bring the program back. Furman has a very dedicated group of men's golf alumni, and we had numerous people step up and make some very generous contributions that provided the kind of financial support the university needed. The outpouring of support from Furman alumni and the golf community has been amazing."
Board of Trustee Chair Richard Cullen said the university was elated by the enthusiasm of Furman's alumni in support of the plan.
"We said at the outset that the initial decision was not an easy one, but necessary to ensure that Furman's resources support its core mission," Cullen said. "This plan maintains our position. The goodwill with which the alumni have approached us, their genuine concern about the University's well-being, and their commitment to the tradition of golf at Furman has been inspiring."
"We were caught off guard by the University's decision to discontinue men's golf, but appreciate the need to appropriately steward the University's resources," said former player Rob Langley. "This plan allows both sides to achieve a win-win. The golf alumni are re-energized and committed to doing everything possible to strengthen the men's golf program for the long-term, which includes driving successful fundraising campaigns to support the program."