Cal Lutheran Athletics remains hopeful despite layoffs


File Photo by Gabby Flores

Cal Lutheran Athletics is hopeful for a spring season despite recent lay offs and furloughs of department employees and statewide COVID-19 regulations.

Sebastian Gagnon , Reporter

While California Lutheran University’s Athletic Department was one of the hardest hit by layoffs during the university’s staffing cuts, they’re still hopeful for a non-traditional season to kick off by Jan. 15, 2021.

In a Zoom interview, Matt Ward, vice president for Enrollment and Student Success said the staffing cuts primarily affected the athletic department’s morale.

“No one likes to see their colleagues dismissed and it has hurt the spirit,” Ward said. “But I also would say that these coaches are among the most idealistic employees we have at Cal Lutheran and are hopeful that we are going to be able to rebound in a really successful way.”

Ward said the department is looking at ways to help the university’s athletes return to play–whatever play may look like.

“January 15th is our target date that we can possibly come back to having some semblance of practice and or play that can include a non-traditional kind of schedule and season,” Ward said.

Coaches and athletics leadership had a meeting on Friday, Nov. 6 where they discussed plans for sports to return–and a lot of that hinges on a COVID-19 testing plan.

Ward said the department’s testing method must comply with state and NCAA guidelines.

“We are working with Health Services to consider how we can get a testing program that is effective and efficient,” Ward said.

Ward said low-contact sports may be some of the first to return.

In an email interview, Daniel Kuntz, director of Athletics, said athletics staff are working hard to ensure that everyday operations are not affected in preparation for sports’ return.

“The athletic trainers are key members of the planning team to prepare for when athletes begin to practice and play again,” Kuntz said.

Despite all assistant coaches either being laid off or furloughed, Kuntz said if sports start up again, the athletic department will have enough coaches available to meet the needs of student-athletes.

“It is our sincere hope that assistant coaches may return once sports are practicing and playing again,” Kuntz said.

In an email interview, Regals Lacrosse Head Coach Laura McIntyre said athletics is doing all they can to support student-athletes during this time.

“The athletics staff continues to work diligently to provide support and opportunity for our current student athletes and actively recruit new prospects despite the challenges the pandemic has brought to the university and financial impacts that have required major changes for our department,” McIntyre said.