American University, acting on the recommendation of Athletic Director Robert Frailey, dropped its struggling varsity baseball program yesterday in order to devote funds to sports in which the school is more competitive.
The decision to discontinue baseball and reallocate the program's funds was made by Donald Triezenberg, vice president for planning and development.
The allocated money, which amounts to more than $100,000 a year, will go toward strengthening more successful teams, Triezenberg said. AU is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.
"Priority decisions are never easy, but they are the key to growth and development," Triezenberg said. "With 13 other varsity athletic programs at American, our commitment to a well-rounded and fully competitive intercollegiate athletic program will continue."
The end of the baseball program came in the wake of an ongoing university investigation this spring into procedural violations involving financial aid for players. But Frailey said the investigation, which was headed by AU Provost Milton Greenberg, had nothing to do with the termination of the program, which he called a strictly economic and competitive decision.
"Our objective is to establish ourselves strongly in a very competitive athletic conference," Frailey said. "We feel that we can do a better job concentrating our efforts in other programs where competitive excellence is much more realistic."
Last month, baseball coach Dee Frady, who has been at American for 23 years, announced he would take a one-year leave of absence with pay in order to pursue other business interests.
His decision to take leave was not related to the investigation, according to Frailey, who said he did not know if the coach would return to the university in some other capacity.
Frady had a 405-443-6 record at AU, but the Eagles were 14-51-1 in the last two years. Gradual changes in the academic calendar year had shortened AU's schedule; a fall schedule was canceled, and the spring term was cut by a full month.
"The decision centers around the ability to compete," Frailey said. "We simply couldn't justify what we had to put into it. . . . Baseball was one of our most expensive programs to operate. Having athletes in training for six months of the year, at that cost, for a six-week season, doesn't make fiscal sense anymore."
Frailey said the university would honor scholarship and aid commitments to members of the baseball team for the duration of their undergraduate careers.
Under NCAA rules, the players will be allowed to transfer to other schools without losing any eligibility.