by Tyler Roaix
The decision made by President Dr. Zulma Toro to cut two sports programs, along with many other changes, has already been met with harsh criticism. Faculty, staff and the campus community have all spoken up on both sides and some feel it isn’t enough.
But little has been said of the impact on the student-athletes directly impacted: the men and women of the golf teams.
Head men’s golf coach Kyle Gallo chose not to comment on Toro’s decision directly. Instead, his stance is that “the campus as a whole and the community needs to know what it has just lost.”
“The CCSU Men’s Golf program is the most storied and successful program in the history of CCSU Athletics and is credited with bringing a small commuter school located in New Britain, Connecticut, onto the national stage of college athletics,” Gallo said. “The Men’s Golf program has played a pivotal role in growing the awareness of CCSU as a local, regional, national and global institution.”
CCSU golf’s storied history dates all the way back to 1965 when Lowell Lukas took over the program as the coach. Lukas turned the program into a Division-II powerhouse and brought a laundry list of awards home to CCSU.
Even since Lukas’ retirement in 2000, Central has continued to shine, even on the Division-I level. Four NEC Championships and three runner-up finishes highlight the team’s success. But individually, the Blue Devils have also had 33 All-NEC selections.
This process has brought many to question the transparency of the Athletics Department. Brandon Raine, senior golfer and captain of the men’s team, shared how he and the team knew very little throughout the process of the task force’s investigation and Toro’s decision making.
“We knew that there were budget cuts, but we weren’t sure where. We had not a single idea that we were on the chopping block,” Raine admitted. “We knew there was going to be changes made, but other than the debates between Division-I and Division-II, there wasn’t really much that we were told. We just knew that there were some teams possibly on the chopping block but we were never told by anybody in the front office about that.”
Ever since the announcement was made, members of the team still feel unsatisfied as to why their team was ultimately chosen to be cut.
“We kind of feel like we didn’t get that many answers from her [Toro]. To me, it just left a lot of people wanting to know more without having an opportunity to know more. Because when we asked questions, she couldn’t give us a clear-cut answer,” Raine said.
16 athletes are currently listed on the golf rosters; 10 of them are either freshmen or sophomores. Raine admitted that these younger student-athletes are the ones to feel the sorriest for, because they are the ones most affected. These individuals now have to consider making what could be the hardest decision they have ever had to make: whether or not to leave CCSU.
“It’s kind of a mix from what I’ve gathered,” Raine said. “Some of them will want to transfer to pursue their Division-I dream. Others will stay because they’ve already got a couple years under their belt so they’re looking at it from an academic standpoint.”
But for Raine, the team simply wants to move forward and put this process behind them. For the Blue Devils, the number one focus is on golf and finishing this final season out strongly.
“As a team, we had a goal not only to win our conference, but also going to regionals, competing well against those high-ranked team that are the big schools. So we are really trying to focus, from here on out, on getting back on track and put this whole process behind us, get back to our goals, get back to our routine. We’ve already had a meeting with our nutritionist. We’re already in the gym working out. Whenever we have an opportunity, we’re practicing. So we are really trying to keep our goal in sight,” Raine said.
For Gallo, Blue Devils’ golf may be coming to an end, but he knows that all of his players have good things ahead of them.
“The future is bright for the Blue Devil golf team. In the fall of 2017, the CCSU Men’s Golf Team recorded two victories and is the number-one ranked team in the NEC by 23 positions in the golf stat national rankings. It is unfortunate that the future only has a semester left,” Gallo said.