The Collegian
Friday, August 12, 2022

Live Blog: Carry the Flag Press Conference

Computer dying so I'll end this now. Thanks for joining me, I'll provide a quick recap soon with any new information that may come.

"You can put new people in their slots," Byrnes says in response to a comment about President Ayers and other board members.

Byrnes answers my question about the Washington Post article released yesterday, saying it didn't include all the information he had hoped it would.

"We're not gonna stop," Byrnes answers to a question from RTD.

Byrnes now taking questions with two other soccer alumni, one of which is Jim Brady, '85.

Byrnes finishes his speech, to a standing ovation, by pulling out a Richmond flag and saying, "Carry the Flag, boys."

"I ask you to withhold your donations to the University of Richmond until the Board of Trustees makes this right."

Byrnes now asking the board to reinstate the soccer and track programs as soon as possible.

"You had an organized group of soccer alumni banging on your door to help, and you ignored us," Byrnes says, in spirit to Ayers.

Byrnes says that if the soccer alumni had any idea the program was in jeopardy, they would've brought their arguments straight to the Board of Trustees before the decision was finalized, and the "lacrosse inner circle" couldn't afford that to happen.

Major Donor refused to engage with soccer alumni because "it would be inappropriate" because he is a member of the Board of Trustees, Byrnes said.

"Eliminating a men's sport will not be an option," Byrnes says, quoting an email about a conversation another soccer alumni had with VP of advancement Tom Gutenberger last summer.

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Neither Ayers or Miller here right now I don't believe. Not a big surprise though. Not sure they were directly invited.

Still rehashing the points he made online, now talking about the 13 percent number that they believe Ayers exaggerated in saying it was the highest percentage among universities they compete for students with.

He's now talking about his steps, though he says only 6 this time. They sound the same as the ones listed on the Carry the Flag website right now.

"You couldn't simply add men's lacrosse, you had to steal a couple men's varsity sports first."

Talks about a "Major Donor," who led the charge in establishing a varsity lacrosse team. He has a son who is an accomplished high school lacrosse player, Byrnes says.

Byrnes said the men's soccer alumni had the highest fundraising participation of any sport on campus in 2011, a proud achievement of the group at the time.

He's talking about, as he did with me before, the soccer alumni mobilizing 18 months ago to restore the program's elite status.

"All driven by the lure of money," Kaufman says, referring to the university administrators involved in making this decision to cut soccer and track for lacrosse.

He called it the Carry the Flag coalition. I like that wording.

He's talking about all the work he and other alumni have put into their effort.

Senior Jason Skipper of the track team introduces Byrnes to get this underway officially.

Remember that this soccer team plays its final game of the season later tonight. It will be the program's final game ever if the decision stands.

Leigh Cowlishaw, men's soccer coach, just came in and sat down a couple rows behind me. He looks determined.

Looks like all the soccer players are here right now, with just a few track guys so far.

Peter Kaufman, the professor who moderated the SOS Forum a few weeks ago, is also here. I heard Byrnes just thank him for helping to set this press conference up.

Welcome to Jepson Hall, where the Carry the Flag team, composed of men's soccer and track alumni is set to hold its press conference. When I talked to the head of the effort, Scott Byrnes (men's soccer '91), on Wednesday, he told me he was the only one scheduled to talk at the time, but I got the feeling he'd have a lot to say. Read the article HERE.

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