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Cutting football team costs WVU Tech 67 students

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia University Institute of Technology has lost 67 student-athletes over the elimination of the football team, transitional executive leader Carolyn Long told the WVU Board of Governors on Friday.

In all, the Montgomery campus has 85 fewer students than this time last year, Long said, but it's the departure of the football players that will severely hurt the school's retention figures for next year.

WVU Tech cut its $700,000-a-year football program to save money after an audit done for the Legislature documented a 50 percent decline in enrollment over the past decade that has left the school "continually starved for operating funds."

Long, former chairwoman of the West Virginia University Board of Governors, took over in January to help turn things around.

She said some of the money from the football players' scholarships will be reinvested in academic programs and some will be used to offer scholarships to new students.

Despite the loss of student-athletes, Long said, there is good news: Admission applications are up, from 198 this time last year to 382 now. She also said more than twice as many students are applying to WVU Tech from other states -- mainly Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Additionally, WVU Tech has reactivated its long-idle alumni association and has about 200 members who have committed to help with fundraising efforts, Long said. Another 20 alumni signed up during a recent higher-education day at the state Capitol.

Long told the board she's met with almost every West Virginia legislator and has visited 10 high schools personally to recruit students. She's also met with deans and chairs of the academic departments about their needs and their roles in the revitalization.

"It's very important that Tech become viable," she said. "It's a wonderful school."

The legislative audit had recommended a short-term cash infusion of up to $35 million and a long-term investment of as much as $100 million to ensure the college's survival. Lawmakers, however, have balked at providing those funds.

The audit also recommended that the minimum enrollment to ensure self-sufficiency be set at 1,800 students. There were 1,160 enrolled at the start of the fall 2011 semester.

Without an annual $2.5 million subsidy from WVU, the report said, WVU Tech would be unable to make payroll.

Long renewed her pledge to reinvigorate the school Friday but added, "this won't be an easy road, and it won't happen overnight."


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