Delays, cancellations and cuts: What the Colonials were up to this summer

Media Credit: File Photo by Eric Lee

GW's men's and women's basketball teams have added five recruits from the Class of 2025 this summer.

While college sports remained paused this summer, the Colonials still kept busy without competition.

Officials announced seven sports would be eliminated at the conclusion of this season, the Atlantic 10 postponed fall sports until the spring and teams used their platforms to advocate for social justice. Here are the highlights of what you missed this summer:

GW cuts seven programs
Officials announced July 31 that seven programs would be axed at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season due to “growing financial concerns.” Men’s and women’s squash, women’s water polo, men’s indoor track and field, men’s rowing, men’s tennis and sailing will be demoted from the varsity level.

Alumni said they were disappointed with the announcement and some have taken measures to push back against the decision. Men’s and women’s squash alumni wrote an open letter to officials calling for more transparency on the decision and launched a petition to keep squash at the varsity level.

Junior rower Patrick George launched a petition calling on the NCAA and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association to merge to maintain varsity status and receive financial support. The petition has garnered more than 2,800 signatures as of Sunday.

Sports postponed
The A-10 delayed fall sports until the spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The postponement affects 11 teams – volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s rowing, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, golf and men’s and women’s cross country.

The Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference, which houses men’s water polo, canceled its fall season. Men’s rowing and sailing, which are governed by the Intercollegiate Rowing Association and the Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association, respectively, will also not compete in the fall, according to athletic department spokeswoman Lauren Shear.

Men’s and women’s swimming and diving, a winter sport, will not train this fall. Men’s and women’s squash, another winter sport governed by the College Squash Association, will postpone the majority of its matches to after Jan. 1.

Teams speak out against racism, police brutality
After the murder of George Floyd, athletic department coaches and officials used social media as a means to express their outrage and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The men’s basketball squad and head coach Jamion Christian have been active participants in the push for social justice, releasing a video and statement, respectively. The squad also urged followers in a tweet to attend a virtual March on Washington protest Aug. 27 and 28.

Volleyball created a weekly series dubbed Talking Tuesdays, which allows a player to use the team’s social media platforms to highlight issues like police brutality or the appropriation of Black culture.

Men’s and women’s basketball bolster Class of 2025 rosters
Between the two programs, men’s and women’s basketball added five Class of 2025 commits over the summer.

The men’s squad picked up commitments from forward Tafara Gapare and guard Brayon Freeman. Gapare, who hails from New Zealand, is Christian’s first international recruit and holds a four-star rating from 247Sports. Freeman is listed as a three-star recruit by 247Sports and a top-30 point guard in his graduating class.

The women’s program nabbed commitments from guard Leila Patel and a pair of forwards in Michelle Ojo and Sophie Haydon. Patel averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game last season. Ojo battled with a foot injury last year but holds a three-star overall ranking and a top-15 position ranking from ESPN. Haydon averaged 11.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a junior.

Changing coaching staffs
Men’s basketball will be without two familiar faces on the coaching staff this upcoming season. Director of Scouting and Analytics AJ Register and Director of Basketball Operations and Recruiting Coordinator Austin Kelley are no longer with the program, athletic department spokesperson Brian Sereno confirmed.

Register announced in a tweet that he accepted an assistant coaching position at Maryland Eastern Shore. Register did not respond to a request for comment, and Kelley could not be reached for comment.

Head lacrosse coach Jennifer Ulehla is currently rebuilding her coaching staff after her sole assistant coach, Haley Hicklen, departed for Pittsburgh. Hicklen served as the team’s defensive coordinator and goalie coach.

Women’s tennis added Dzina Milovanovic as an assistant coach Aug. 13. She will replace graduate assistant Gussie O’Sullivan, who departed at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. Milovanovic played at Pepperdine, where she helped her team to three appearances at the NCAA Team Championship Quarterfinal. She ranked as high as No. 44 in the Oracle/ITA singles rankings and No. 39 in the doubles rankings while playing collegiately.

Academics reach all-time highs
GW landed 258 athletes on the A-10 Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll for the 2019-20 season, the most it had since the 2016-17 season when 241 athletes were recognized. Women’s rowing led the way with 29 honorees, while women’s swimming and diving followed closely with 28 honor roll members. Baseball and lacrosse tied for third with 27 respective athletes.

The conference also tabbed a record number of student-athletes earning a spot on the Honor Roll, with 3,761 achieving a minimum 3.0 GPA. In the conference, 71 percent of student-athletes carved a spot on the Honor Roll.

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