The chairman of Towson State University's Intercollegiate Athletic Committee said yesterday he plans to ask the campus senate Monday to wait two weeks before voting on the committee's proposal to suspend the Tigers' football program next year because of budget problems.
John Connolly, an English professor and the committee chairman, said his nine-member group made the decision following an emotional, four-hour forum Thursday at which students, parents, athletes and Towson business leaders pleaded for the continuation of the I-AA program through increased fund-raising.
"We want to give those people who have asked for it the time to see if they can come up with a workable plan," Connolly said. "We owe them that much. They are genuinely concerned. They want to find some external funds."
Towson State, whose 21-sport, $2.8 million athletic program is 94 percent funded by student fees, is facing a projected $257,000 deficit at the end of the current fiscal year.
A campus source familiar with the situation said the group would need to raise $150,000 to $200,000 annually. That figure would increase football scholarships from 44 to 55, but would not cover completely an anticipated increase in travel expenses or a possible increase in scholarships in other sports needed to remain in Division I, sources said.
University President Hoke Smith earlier rejected a $100 increase in the student activity fee, which currently is $270 per year, one of the highest nationally, according to Connolly.
Under the athletic committee proposal, the football program would be suspended for the 1991 season and then reevaluated. Smith will make the final decision. Earlier this week he said he anticipated a football revival by 1992 in a lower classification.
The audience at the open forum Thursday included Harry McGuirk, one of Gov. William Donald Schaefer's top fund-raisers.
Five years ago, when Towson moved from Division II to I-AA football, a fund-raising campaign drew $100,000 in contributions the first year, but the fund-raising level has dropped to $20,000 annually.