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(2003/11/16 - updated daily)
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BY BOB HERTZEL
The Dominion Post
Mike Mosser, a four-time All-American distance runner and the only male national champion in the sport of track and field at West Virginia University, resigned his position as president of the Varsity Club on Monday in the wake of the school's decision to drop five Olympic sports.
The school, in what Mosser called a "surprise ambush" in the letter of resignation he delivered to athletic director Ed Pastilong, dropped its nationally recognized coed rifle program along with men's indoor and outdoor track, men's cross country and men's tennis programs late last week.
They said they did it as a cost-cutting measure, saving more than $600,000 a year, and admitted it also had Title IX implications.
"It is with great regret and sorrow that I resign my position as president of the WVU Varsity Club effective immediately. I find my position as a spokesman and leader of all the former Varsity sport athletes at WVU comprised with the "SHOCK and AWE" announcement of the termination of the five Varsity sports from the athletic program," Mosser wrote in his letter of resignation.
The Varsity Club, an outgrowth of what was once called The Lettermen's Club, provides a way for all former WVU student-athletes and coaches to remain in contact with their athletic program, team and teammates.
"To me, this is a statement," Mosser said. "I've had three of my sports dropped. I represented all the athletes -- non-revenue and major sports. I can't in good faith represent the body of former athletes without my sports represented."
Mosser's letter condemned the athletic department and president David Hardesty for its actions.
"The athlete's trust in WVU and the institution's commitment to the athletes were breached by a cowardly approach to an appalling university decision. Trust and commitment are paramount to an institution of WVU's stature, but these qualities have been destroyed," he wrote.
Mosser believes the athletic department changed its philosophy after granting football coach Rich Rodriguez a large salary increase after he threatened to leave the university for Alabama or Kentucky after just two years.
That, he wrote, "placed budget pressures on all of the programs. The liquidation of 100 years of program history was accomplished at the greedy hands of a few, sacrificing sports that have produced 15 national champions, 13 national team championship, 84 All-Americans, 15 Olympians, Olympic medal winners and countless good will that is immeasurable."
Mosser concluded that "the athletes will heal in time, but I believe the athletic program will NEVER EVER recover from its gross mismanagement."
Mosser never ran track before his senior year in high school, but wound up taking down All-American honors four times and capturing the NCAA indoor 1,000-yard championship in 2:08.7 in 1972 in Detroit.
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