Louisiana-Monroe to Add Womens Golf Team


MONROE, La. -- Louisiana-Monroe is dropping its swimming and diving program and adding women's varsity golf.
Women's golf will begin competing in the 2005-06 season. Men's and women's swimming and diving will end with the current academic year.
'Telling those kids, it makes you sick,' athletic director Bobby Staub said. 'It's never easy and not something you want to have to do on a regular basis for sure. It's a tough call. But at the end of the day, you have to make hard decisions.'
Adding women's golf gives ULM 16 varsity sports -- seven for men and nine for women. Staub said he believes the community support of the new golf program.
'I think the program will do very well and be competitive, like the men's is,' Staub said. 'I feel good about that.'
Staub said that the moves would better align ULM with the other regional Division I institutions. Four men's teams and seven women's teams compete in Sun Belt Conference swimming and diving. There are 11 women's golf teams.
'We make 12,' Staub said. 'From that standpoint, a lot more teams in our league are playing the sport. And facilities are not an issue.'
ULM men's golf coach Chris Wilson will also lead the women's golf program. The women will compete in the Southland Conference in 2005-06, before moving into the Sun Belt in 2006-07.
'I am excited about it,' Wilson said. 'Golf is such a great game and it is really booming as far as the amateur side goes. There are a lot more boys and girls playing golf now than 15 years ago.'
The six men and five women affected by the decision will be given their immediate release to continue their academic and athletic pursuits at another institution.

Athletes,in good standing with the school may also remain at ULM on scholarship for the 2005-06 academic year.
For the short term, the changes will be a wash financially. Staub said that over time as savings occur, the extra money will be put back into women's sports.
Former swimming and diving head coach Sean Weddell resigned in March after less than a year in Monroe. He was hired last summer to replace John Pittington, who died last March after 21 years at ULM.
At the Sun Belt Championships in February, ULM's women finished seventh and the men finished fourth. ULM's Ryan Harbry was named Sun Belt Conference diver of the year and won both the 1- and 3-meter dives at conference championships.
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