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Bounced: Queens drops men’s volleyball for season

"The team didn't recruit enough players, so the season was canceled," Wettan said. "These kinds of things happen at this level. Teams rise and fall. This isn't the first time this has happened to a sport."The men's golf season was also cancelled; Wettan mentioned the possibility of eliminating the volleyball team permanently from the school next season. There was no chorus of disapproval regarding the team's cancellation, proof he said, of the team's lack of support at the school."You're the only person who has called me about this," Wettan told a TimesLedger reporter. "No one else has made a big deal out of this."The team had only three players ready for the season instead of the six required to play. Karl Pierre, the men's coach, was depending on a number of recruits from junior colleges to fill out the remainder of his team, but NCAA guidelines kept the students from participating. Most of Pierre's recruits spent less than a year in junior college instead of the required year needed to transfer to a four-year school like Queens, according to Merlin Thompson, Queens College's assistant director of athletics.Another recruit arrived from outside the United States, but he failed to secure a sponsorship package that would have subsidized his tuition and housing in the United States, Thompson said, and the student never enrolled at Queens.The player needed to come up with around $25,000, Thompson said, and Queens could only offer him a scholarship in the amount of a "couple of thousand dollars."Students must pay for housing on their own because the school has no dorms.Pierre, a former professional volleyball player whose wife, Aline-Pascale Lubin coaches the women's team, said the administration at Queens is biased against his team because they play in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) while the other teams at the school play in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference (NYCAC)."I think they want all the teams to be in the NYCAC," said Pierre, who would have entered his 10th year and works at a pharmaceutical company when he is not coaching. "We're the only team in the school that is part of the EIVA and [the administration] feels the NYCAC has a higher standard, but in volleyball that's not true. The EIVA is the only men's volleyball conference on the East Coast. The NYCAC doesn't carry men's volleyball and any sport outside of that gets alienated by the school."Pierre described the system of awarding scholarships at the school as tenuous, especially where the men's volleyball team is concerned."The athletic director makes all the decisions about scholarships," Pierre said. "He would come to me and tell me what he has to offer, and I would have to try and make it work for the players. Every time I was in a situation where I had a recruit, I would have to go to him to see what was available. I don't know any other situation at the school that had it like this."The men's volleyball team had "maybe four" scholarships available, according to Dr. Wettan. Based on NCAA bylaws, men's volleyball teams in Division II are limited to 4.5 scholarships while women are allowed 8 scholarships, a difference that is allowed under Title IX, the NCAA directive that deals with gender bias in collegiate sports.Queens offers volleyball scholarships based on how much money is in the school budget, Thompson said, with Dr. Wettan in charge of divvying up the money. According to a gender-equity study compiled by the NCAA in 2002-03, women's volleyball programs on the Division II level on average received 4.7 scholarships and $62,100 in athletic aid, while men were given 2.4 scholarships and $42,200 of athletic aid, numbers that don't exactly mirror Queens' but speak to the inequity of scholarships offered to men and women in the sport.The women's team is thriving and is no danger of being terminated, Wettan said. The Lady Knights made the Elite Eight in 2003 and 2004 and is part of the NYCAC.Men's volleyball is a dying sport, Thompson said, while women's volleyball is flourishing on the collegiate level. Statistics from the NCAA support Thompson's statement. While there are only a total of 80 men's teams in Division I, II, III, there are over twice that amount for women's teams in Division I, according to the NCAA's website.Flyers were handed out in a last ditch effort to save the team, but it was clear as the first game against Hunter College approached Jan. 27, the school would be shorthanded."Volleyball was the only way to keep my sanity," Pierre said. "That's the only time when I can honestly say that I am in control. My best qualities came out when I was on the volleyball court. This is a pretty tough situation to deal with. I was hoping that we could delay the start of the season because the first three games are non-conference games, but it didn't happen." In nearly 30 years of presiding over athletics at Queens College, Wettan could only remember one other team that had its season cancelled because of low numbers before this season: the men's ice hockey team around 20 years ago. The program was removed from the school a short time after and never replaced. Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by E-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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