“I got there a couple of minutes late, and she had already started,” Fratantuono said. “All I heard was, ‘I’m sorry,’ and, ‘You can always come back to Towson.’ I’ll never forget those words, and where I was. I was devastated.”
Peter Bowles, a sophomore infielder from Gaithersburg, said that, when he got there and heard Loeschke’s news, he “let out a couple of bad words at her,” before he and some of his teammates left.
A “couple of my buddies just grabbed me, took us out. Everyone was real angry. Older guys just said, 'C'mon, man, let’s go,' “ Bowles recalled. “There was tears. .. It was like [your] girlfriend cheating on you or something, you know? Just like -- with your buddy or something. … It was just terrible."
In a telephone interview Thursday, Loeschke said she acted quickly to call the meeting because of a media leak and because she wanted to tell the players in person before they heard about it in news reports. As for the police officers, she said there was one in plain clothes in the room with her, and one in uniform in the hallway. “And they were needed,” she said.
The decision to eliminate the teams “was very wrenching,” Loeschke said. “I love baseball. I’m very proud of the team. I think the young men are wonderful. It’s been very difficult. Sometimes you have to make a decision your head tells you is necessary and your heart breaks. And this would be one of them.”
Waddell, who last week announced he was leaving Towson to become senior associate athletic director at the University of Arkansas, said he was “painted into a corner” by the department’s financial constraints and Title IX issues. “Nobody gets in this business to look at a student athlete and tell him, ‘We don’t have the money for your team.’ I didn’t like doing it.”
The days that followed Loeschke’s announcement brought some hard reckoning. The players began to detach themselves emotionally from Towson, covering up the school’s name on their uniforms with duct tape before each game and, in many cases, starting the process of finding a new place to play. On a road trip to Hofstra, a few of them took a tour of the campus.
“At that point you had two options: find somewhere else to play, or you were going to be done playing baseball,” Bowles said. “In the back of my mind, I really didn’t want to go anywhere else. Was thinking of straying here and hanging with all my friends.”
At the same time, Gottlieb estimates it took just 48 to 72 hours for the phone calls to start coming in from rival coaches looking to poach his players. He didn’t mind. He was about to start calling some of the same coaches himself.