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Top USA club out in the cold

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  • aaronegibson
    http://www.scrum.com/country/news.asp?newsid=14035&country=USA 31/Jul/02 Brian Lowe Life University, one of the top rugby teams in the United States, is on
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2002
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      31/Jul/02 Brian Lowe
      Life University, one of the top rugby teams in the United States, is
      on shaky ground following the sudden dumping of the entire athletics
      program at the institution where it was founded.

      The Running Eagles club will more than likely drop to Division One as
      a result of the Atlanta-based College suffering a serious fall in

      Life University is among the leading chiropractic schools in the
      country and the loss of revenue has been attributed to the University
      having its accreditation withdrawn by the Chiropractic Council of
      Education. The withdrawal of the accreditation caused a substantial
      drop in enrollments, which in turn led to a reported $1.8 million

      That shortfall was the driving force behind the decision to slash the
      University's entire athletics program, including track, basketball,
      soccer and ice hockey. Rugby, however, will probably remain the only
      organized sport to be played at the school, albeit at the lower

      The sequence of events began just weeks after the University's
      founder Sid Williams was unceremoniously let go. The College's
      interim president Michael Schmidt subsequently decided on the cuts
      and told all the coaches and their staff that they'd need to find
      other jobs.

      One of those coaches, Mel Smith, who completed his eleventh season
      with the rugby team this year was stunned, "I'm very sad and
      disappointed. It has caused me some sleepless nights, but I'm trying
      to be philosophical. I've got my family and I have to get on with it.

      "We were told we had to look for new jobs and it all boiled down to
      the accreditation being taken away. Without accreditation students
      who would've enrolled haven't and others have left, so it's a domino
      effect with the revenue dropping."

      Smith said that he tried to convince Schmidt to keep the rugby
      program intact so as to enable the rugby-playing students to finish
      what they'd started, "Scholarships will still be available, but my
      position won't be necessary any longer. The school has a different
      emphasis now with academics coming first.

      "The best thing about rugby continuing is that it has been synonymous
      with Life University for the past 20 years, but I'm going to miss
      everyone that I've been associated with, it's an empty feeling.

      "It's been an incredible experience and I've been fortunate to have
      seen both the highs and lows. I'm very grateful for the opportunity
      that was given to me."

      Smith added that as a result of the decision to cut the athletics
      program, the rugby club would almost certainly be forced to drop out
      of the US Super League because of the financial commitment involved.
      The Running Eagles won the Super League championship in 2000 and made
      it to the playoffs in the two subsequent seasons.

      As for his own future, Smith isn't sure, although he hopes to be able
      to continue his involvement with the game that has been so much a
      part of his life for so long.
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