Cutting Costs: CP school board discontinues four sports with unanimous vote

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

June 13, 2007 - COMO - The Como-Pickton ISD Board of Trustees accepted a recommendation made on behalf of athletics director Devin Gabbard to discontinue boys and girls programs in soccer, powerlifting and golf Tuesday night at their school board meeting.

The school board approved the decision with a 5-0 vote, effective in the 2007-08 school year, and no timetable was released on when these sports will be reestablished.

"We want to make sure on the soccer and powerlifting programs that those were chosen because of money spent toward non-UIL sports, and with golf the reason was due to lack of participation," high school principal Jeanne Lay said. "We will revisit those programs when it is financially possible."

With Gabbard not in attendance at the meeting, a written statement was presented to the board in which Gabbard stated due to a lack of coaches within the district and the boys soccer team spending an estimated $11,215, last year, the cost was just too high for the budget. The team spent $5,500 on mileage alone. In girls soccer, the team spent an estimated $10,059 with mileage cost at $3,659.

"Currently we do not have a coach on staff that is familiar with the sport that is not already coaching two other sports within the soccer season," Gabbard wrote in the statement. "We would have to hire a soccer coach that would also have to be a full-time, degreed employee that would also be able to coach them.

"We have no teaching positions open that we could hire a coach. If we hired a coach it would be a coach that could only coach a fall sport in addition to soccer because the season runs from January into March."

A total of 40 athletes will be affected by the loss of the soccer program as 27 boys and 13 girls played last season.

Como-Pickton was not under the UIL umbrella in soccer due to the fact that Class 2A does not have enough teams for competitive soccer, making it a club sport rather than a UIL sport.

Gabbard stated in the release the powerlifting program is also considered a club sport and not under the "UIL umbrella" as the interest for the program dwindled this past year. Graduating senior John Garrett advanced to the state meet in powerlifting last year, and Gabbard said the school has one junior who could have competed at a higher level.

"This year we have struggled to take four-or-more to a meet. They can go as an individual if there are less than six, but a team requires six participants," Gabbard said. "With the financial situation that we are in, I have a hard time rationalizing why we should spend an estimated $3,780 to have a powerlifting team next year."

The boys and girls golf programs are coming off a successful season in which they had 13 student athletes participate last year, with two sophomores advancing to the regional golf tournament.

Without an available coach on staff, the district would be forced to have a coach split time between two sports or hire another coach to continue the golf program, Gabbard said. The team spent an estimated $5,473.60 last year.

"Right now, we are the smallest coaching staff in the district by at least six full coaches," he said. "You can not expect the eight full time coaches that we have on staff right now to be able to do what every other school does with 15-18 coaches. We are short-staffed and don't have the budget to support all of these programs. I recommend that we suspend participation until the school finances are in a better position to make these sports successful."

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News-Telegram news editor Faith Huffman contributed to this report.

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