Jim Miller-

I am writing to you in shock, frustration, anger and sadness over your summary decision to eliminate the men's soccer program at the University of Richmond. Certainly, in your decision there are numerous debatable talking points. For instance, you highlight the fact that lacrosse is the fastest growing high school sport in the country. Yet, you don't mention that soccer has been in the top 10 of high school sports for years. Clearly a sport not embraced or supported under your tenure. Additionally, you talk of ensuring “access and affordability" in your press release when, in actuality, the University ranks in the top 25 in the nation in tuition fees. Clearly a school committed to a specific demographic. There are blatant discrepancies in your public vision statements and your organization's actions.

However, my point focuses on the ideology that now seems to embrace the University; clearly demonstrated by your decision. It is apparent that the University has foregone what should be incorporated within an institution of higher learning – tradition, values, commitment and dedication, among others – and has, instead welcomed big money and strong politics. I am sure your young MBA team presented you with the Net Present Value of all the 'non-revenue' sports and showed you a bottom line; minimizing losses and costs. No doubt Title IX dilemmas had you also determine that cutting a team was more cost efficient than adding a new one.

My understanding of an elite University is one which embraces it's own brand, one that relishes the successes of its programs and, more importantly, rushes to embrace and support the same programs' failures and defeats. Collegiate athletics are far greater than a 'bottom line number'.

As an active duty Commander in the United States Navy, I live under the tenets of Honor, Courage and Commitment. They are the cornerstones of my professional and personal life. These are the very minimum principles to which a University should aspire. In a time when people look for organizations and people to uphold moral courage and elevated principles, one would think that a University aspiring for national positioning would embrace and welcome such attributes. However, with a lack of leadership and closed-door politics, you helped cement into the minds of students, faculty, staff and alumnae that, what truly matters is money. Mr. Miller, I am just a modest man with modest means and naively still believe in values that are rarely exhibited these days. I truly wonder how a school with a $1.87 Billion endowment can NOT embrace such beliefs.

One of the most frustrating aspects of this entire prospect is that this email will, ultimately, fall on deaf ears. The alumnae have consistently reached out to you and the University in an attempt to help, support and embolden the program. Yet, responses were always muted. Embarrassingly for us, just last year you initiated an alumnae drive competition that we rallied behind as you readily accepted our donations with no trepidation.

Sadly, I am sure you and your department discussed the 'emotional backlash' that will initially occur. And, yes, you are probably sitting there wading through it all knowing that, over time, it will die down and you can brush us aside and move on with your "strategy". It is truly a shame that you, the Board of Trustees and the University can categorize as “acceptable” the anger, sadness and hurt of the many groups that have strongly supported the soccer program and the school over all these years.

I cherish my time as a Spider graduate and feel completely betrayed by your decision and the underlying principles the school seems to now embrace. As a combat veteran with over 20 years of military service I can tell you that I have made very difficult decisions in my life to include putting myself and fellow wingmen and aircrew in harms way. However, those decisions seem to pale in comparison to the decision I must now try to make; determining my future ties to a school I truly loved.


CDR Carlisle Lustenberger, US Navy
RC ’91 RL ‘98
4/11/2013 07:39:05

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