Change in golf status to have athletic department-wide benefits

Following a thorough review, a recommendation from the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee and with the endorsement of the faculty, President Mark Burstein has announced a change in the status of the Lawrence men’s golf team from varsity to club, effective fall of 2016.

As a result, more students — women as well as men — will have expanded opportunities to represent the college on the links and participate in this lifelong activity.

Mike Szkodzinski

“While no one enjoys decisions as difficult as changing a program’s status, we are confident we are making this change in the best interest of our student-athletes,” said Mike Szkodzinski, director of athletics and a member of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee.

A reallocation of resources that could enhance the experience Lawrence provides to its more than 300 varsity student-athletes was among the primary factors in the decision to change the golf program’s status.

Among the advantages of the resource reallocation will be the addition of a full-time strength and conditioning coach to the athletic department that will benefit all varsity athletes.

Erin Buenzli

“It is essential for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to train with a professional,” said Szkodzinski. “Having a full-time strength and conditioning coach who will work with all of the athletes in and out of their playing seasons will be a tremendous asset to our entire program.”

Erin Buenzli, Lawrence’s director of wellness and recreation, will serve as the director of the golf team. She sees the change as a positive that will “create additional opportunities for Lawrentians to enjoy and learn golf.”

“The move allows more students to participate and create an inclusive, co-ed golf team while taking on leadership roles within the club to create the student-driven experience that they envision,” said Buenzli.

“Having a full-time strength and conditioning coach who will work with all of the athletes in and out of their playing seasons will be a tremendous asset to our entire program.”
Szkodzinski, director of athletics

As a club team, Lawrence will have the opportunity to compete against other club programs in the state and be affiliated with the National Collegiate Club Golf Association North Region, which sponsors two regional tournaments in the fall and spring. Other institutions in Wisconsin with club golf teams include Beloit College, Marquette University, UW-Green Bay, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Whitewater.

Kathy Privatt

“This outcome seemed the most rational, responsible use of the resources entrusted to the athletics department and the best use in support of our student-athletes,” said Kathy Privatt, chair of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee, Lawrence’s faculty representative to the Midwest Conference and the James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama. “We acknowledged that, given the time commitment of Conservatory students, our actual pool of available student-athletes is approximately 1,200.  With that population and the current budget, we determined that there are a limited number of sports we can sustain appropriately.”

Even with the change in golf’s status, Lawrence still has the third most (21) intercollegiate varsity sports among the 11 members of the Midwest Conference.

A national search for a strength and conditioning coach will begin immediately.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.