Speculation has become reality in Laie. Three years from now, the athletics department at BYU-Hawaii will no longer exist.
Administrators at the school held a closed door meeting Friday afternoon with coaches and athletes to inform them that the University will disband the Seasiders 11 athletic teams. In that meeting, returning players were told their scholarships would be honored for three more years.
In a statement, BYUH President Steven C. Wheelwright said, "The money being spent on athletics programs will be used to provide educational opportunities for the increasing number of students from around the world who can be served by the university."
Sources told Hawaii News Now that the school will dismantle the softball and soccer fields to construct new dorms and other buildings, in hopes of doubling the size of its admission, which is around 2500 students.
Of that student body, nearly 200 of them are athletes who were dumbfounded by the announcement.
"It's frustrating," says BYUH basketball player Bracken Funk. "It feels like we weren't involved in any of the decision making. You know the thing that aggravated me the most was they said there was all this data and they didn't share a lick of it with us."
With three years remaining before its exodus, Funk also questions how BYUH will field enough athletes to comprise the rosters of the six women's teams and five men's programs.
"I think the initial concern is, Hey, we have all these athletic teams and we're phasing them out in three years, where are we going to recruit? How do you recruit someone to a program that is dying? To do that is impossible. The teams will diminish and it won't even be worth having them."
The Seasiders play division II sports and helped lay the foundation of the PAC West conference in 1992. Commissioner Bob Hogue said by phone that he has made the necessary steps to rearrange the schedules for the remaining 12 member schools.
He added that the loss of BYUH means fellow Hawaii PAC West members Hawaii Pacific, Chaminade and UH-Hilo will have to get more creative in scheduling mainland opponents. Historically, the schools would collectively schedule a packaged deal with mainland schools to play multiple Pac West schools during their trip to the islands.