MELBOURNE, Fla. — The excitement buzzing among student-athletes at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne is now gone.
The school recently announced a decision to discontinue five of its varsity teams.
McKenna Barr is an incoming freshman from Indiana, planning to major in marine biology at Florida Tech. She’s also earned a scholarship to be on Florida Tech’s Division II rowing team.
“It just felt right,” Barr said of her commitment to Florida Tech. “I was like, this is the team I need to be on.”
In a surprise move last week, FIT announced five teams would be losing their varsity status, making them club sports instead.
“I wish they came out with it earlier, because I’m moving in like in a month,” Barr said. “It’s hard because there’s some kids that, after this decision came out, wanted to transfer, but all the team slots are filled and school starts in less than a month.”
Barr says she and her teammates were blindsided by the decision.
“We have nine conference wins, and it’s a pretty decorated sport, so I don’t know why you would get rid of it,” Barr said.
In a statement, FIT Athletic Director Jamie Joss maintained the decision was not a cost-cutting measure, but “a strategic decision to deliberately increase competitiveness within the Sunshine State Conference.”
A change.org petition has been started, calling for FIT to reverse the decision. So far, it has more than 6,000 signatures.
Barr says she’ll keep fighting until she gets the sports reinstated.
“I want this team back in the NCAA,” Barr said. “We deserve it.”
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