Tennis Racket Protests
Removal of D-I Tennis comes with a racket
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Three student-athletes sleeping on tennis courts.

In protest of the decision to move Trinity’s tennis program to Division III, student-athletes camped out on the tennis courts.

In October 1990, Trinity Tennis became the final team on campus to move from NCAA Division I to Division III competition.

The decision, prompted by then-President Ron Calgaard in order to realign Trinity with peer academic institutions, brought to an end a tradition that included a 1972 NCAA championship, along with a storied 1978 match where Larry Gottfried ’79 handed Stanford prodigy and future pro John McEnroe his only collegiate loss.

As described by legendary coach Bob McKinley, “[Trinity was] the only school in the country where tennis was the number one sport.”

Naturally, tennis supporters had no intention of going quietly.

Left, a Trinity student speaks with a Trustee. Right, students use markers and poster board to create protest signs.

A storm of protest arose from students, athletes, and alumni, echoing through the local print and television media. An angry crowd of students greeted university trustees who were assembling for the October board meeting to vote on the issue, pelted them with tennis balls, and chanted, "Rights are rights and Ron is wrong."

Students pose on a brick wall with tennis racket protest signsDespite a petition signed by 900 students protesting the action, the Board of Trustees unanimously supported Calgaard's recommendation to abolish scholarship tennis. Male and female students currently holding scholarships were given three choices: (1) keep their scholarships at Trinity but not play tennis; (2) give up their athletic scholarships and continue playing tennis at Trinity; or (3) transfer to another university.

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