CSB & SJU Nordic Ski Teams Cut from Varsity Athletics

FasterSkierMarch 11, 20111

What happened:

  • Coaches were notified that the Nordic Ski program would be cut from a Varsity sport to club status on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 in a meeting between Dave Johnson, Tom Stock, and Carol Howe-Veenstra.
  • Carol Howe-Veenstra, Tom Stock, Mary Geller, and Fr. Doug Mullin informed the athletes at 5:15pm on Thursday, March 3rd, 2011.
  • No advanced warnings were given.
  • No coaches or athletes were involved or informed of any discussions surrounding the decision to cut the program to a club status.
  • Tom Stock, Father Mullin and Father Bob have been responding to concerned groups and individuals with a copy-and-pasted email that plainly states: “We will not reconsider this decision.”

What we are requesting:

  • We need your continued efforts in making an impact on the CSB and SJU administration.  We need to prove to them that they did not foresee the full ramifications of demoting this Varsity program to a club status.
  • PLEASE!  Continue to send emails/letters to the administration- see contacts below.  Emily Ranta is collecting letters- when you email the administration please CC them to xcskieranta@gmail.com.  Also, please forward any response you may receive to her; we do not want the administration taking a cookie-cutter approach to this matter.
  • Phone calls create a HUGE impact. The offices of the vice presidents and athletic directors cannot ignore a phone that rings off the hook for days on end.  Be prepared to ask them for their reasoning in cutting the program, explain your role in the matter, and fight for the lifelong sport of Nordic Skiing.
  • Donate: The alumni are in the process of creating a phone bank to begin making calls requesting donations to support the cause.  The current goal is to raise $50,000.  You can send a monetary pledge to Oumar Cherif at odcherif@gmail.com.  More information to come soon.

Primary concerns:

  • The Benedictine values our schools were founded on are not being upheld, particularly those surrounding “taking counsel” and practicing “justice”.  All athletes, upon joining a Varsity program here at CSB/SJU, are given a copy of Saint Benedict’s Rule for Fair Play in Sports.  Below is an excerpt from the book under “Taking Counsel”:

“Athletic facilities on our campuses are not isolated, self-contained enterprises. ‘Physical’ education is integrated into the rest of our curriculum and connected to every other discipline in our liberal arts, such as anthropology, biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology. Therefore, the broader community should be consulted for important decisions on athletics that have effect beyond athletes and coaches, such as in which sports a school should compete ‘outside the walls’ or ‘inside the walls’ (see page 93), and the location, size, and amenities of facilities.”

  • The administrators who made the decision lacked important information surrounding the myriad of impacts that will ensue upon cutting the Varsity Nordic program here at CSB/SJU.  This is not a decision that impacts 20 athletes.
    • Diversity: Cutting the program will decrease the diversity of intercollegiate sports offered here on campus.
    • Academics: Skiers are among the top students in our schools.  Many are Regents’ Trustees’ Scholars, maintain a 3.0 or higher throughout their four years of schooling, and go on to become Doctors, Peace Corps/AmeriCorps volunteers, Educators, Physical Therapists and Engineers.
    • Student Involvement: The Nordic ski trails are not used only by the athletes.  The OLC routinely runs out of rental skis on the weekends- football players, musicians, faculty, Saint Cloud residents, and monks are among those who enjoy the Saint John’s ski trails.  The grooming knowledge and time commitment required to maintain these trails are far more than the administration anticipates.
    • Greater Ski Community: The Minnesota State High School League Nordic Ski program is the largest high school ski program in the nation.  It is not unusual for teams to reach over 120 members for a single season.  However, by cutting this program, they are forcing even more athletes to look out of state if they are interested in continuing to ski competitively- the collegiate ski programs in the state of Minnesota would effectively be cut by 25%.
    • NCAA Athletics: There are currently three regions for Nordic Skiing in the nation.  The University of Saint John’s and the College of Saint Benedict are part of the Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA).  The teams that were part of the CCSA for the 2010-2011 season include: Michigan Tech University, Saint Olaf College, Gustavus Adolphus, Saint Cloud State University, Northern Michigan University, Gogebic Community College, College of Saint Scholastica, Saint John’s University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, College of Saint Benedict, University of Wisconsin Green Bay.  Carleton, Macalester, and Saint Mary’s University have all dropped their ski programs over the course of the past ten years.  If this trend continues, the CCSA will cease to exist and collegiate skiing, from Division I to Division III, will slowly disintegrate.
    • Division III Athletics: Unlike Division I and II schools, Division III athletics allow athletes to be students first.  The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University expect their athletes to focus on academics above all else- many skiers choose to attend a Division III school in lieu of a Division I school due to this emphasis as well as the rigor and academic challenge presented.  Students are expected to take a full course load and graduate in four years, while skiing at among the best skiers in the nation.  Cutting two more Nordic programs from Division III athletics further limits these opportunities for athletes and athletic programs alike.
    • Lifelong Involvement:  Nordic skiing is one of the few lifelong sports offered at CSB/SJU at the Varsity level.  Our athletes routinely give back their love for skiing to younger generations.  Past student athletes who have continued on to coach within the state of Minnesota: Sean Laidig (’03) & Christian Brekke (’05): Stillwater Area High School Ski Coach.  Erik Hendrickson (’07): Saint Louis Park High School.  Oumar Cherif (’10): Orono High School.

We would like to thank you in advance for any help, support, or encouragement you may have for our efforts.  This is a devastating loss to the school, especially when you look at how the situation has been/is being handled.  Please, do not hesitate to contact any member of the ski team with questions, comments, or concerns.


CSB & SJU skiers and alumni

For more information, please contact:

Megan Smith (CSB Sophomore)                                                      mesmith@csbsju.edu                                     (651) 319-1730

Trevor Drake (SJU Alum)                                                       trevor.l.drake@gmail.com                   (952)201-2140

Oumar Cherif (SJU Alum)                                                       odcherif@gmail.com                                     (612) 532-7636

Emily Ranta (2011 Assistant Nordic Ski Coach)                   xcskieranta@gmail.com                   (651) 230-2025


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One comment

  • Erik_hendrickson

    March 11, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Also, sign our online petition to show your support of NCAA skiing:


    Or join the facebook group “Bring Back CSB/SJU Nordic Ski team” to stay updated

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