Multiple options being considered for VSU athletics on the four campuses


Patrick Bell

Greg Eckman

With the unification of the Vermont State College System continuing to progress, lots of questions remain regarding the vision for the university moving forward, and athletics have been no exception.
In an interview with Basement Medicine, Interim Athletic Director for NVU-Johnson Greg Eckman confirmed that among the scenarios being considered, moving all NCAA athletics to the Castleton campus is one of them. He stressed, however, that this option should be considered in context, and that it is far from certain that such a move even carries much weight.

“In late January, the sponsors[VSCS chancellor, Council of Presidents and other stop central office administration figures] provided us with their feedback, and they wanted us to look at a couple of different options,” said Eckman. “They’re having us go through a really large in-depth financial analysis on each campus that has to do with not only the revenue and expense. We also have to consider what’s the demographic makeup of our student athletes and does it really help drive diversity? What are retention levels? What are our roster sizes? Are we struggling with some teams? So, we’ve got a long list of items that we’re looking to work through, that all the campuses are working through.”

For these reasons, Eckman said, it is the job of the athletic departments of each campus to investigate a multitude of scenarios that would be best for the newly formed Vermont State University.

“They want us to look at all the financials behind that,” Eckman said. “They want to look at a model for if it’s just one Vermont State University. What would just one athletic department look like spread across all of the campuses with no duplicate programs? And then they also want to take a look at what would it would look like if [intercollegiate]athletics just stayed on one campus, and then we just have a robust program of intramurals or a strong club scene on other campuses. So, like any correct business process, they’re looking at multiple options and scenarios.”

Eckman stressed that these processes are very preliminary and that they are simply a formality of the unification proceedings. He also made it clear that his office is hopeful that the Johnson campus retains its strong commitment to athletics for its students.

“The scenarios that we support the most are the ones that continue to have varsity athletics programs on each of the campuses,” said Eckman. “That’s the direction we’re looking to continue. But they’re having us investigate lots of different options. Because, from their perspective…they haven’t figured out what the hybrid institution is going to look like exactly. So, they’ve got to make sure that the stuff they have going forward makes sense for the years to come. They’re looking at everything. All options are on the table, but it doesn’t seem like they’re leaning one way or the other.”

These talks are in their very early stages, and it is unclear what the final vision will be. Eckman can only speculate at this point. “To be honest, that final decision of how everything is going to go will go through the sponsors and through the gatekeepers of this entire unification process.”

For now, students, athletes, and stakeholders in the VSCS will have to wait for this story to continue develop.