La Salle to eliminate baseball program
La Salle University dealt a blow to the Philadelphia baseball community on Tuesday, announcing plans to cut their baseball program following the upcoming spring season. 

In a statement, La Salle announced it was shutting down seven varsity teams following the academic year – baseball, softball, men’s swimming and diving, men’s water polo, volleyball, and men’s and women’s tennis. 

"Through this process, it has become abundantly clear that the existing sport-offering structure at La Salle is not a sustainable model for success," president Collen Hanycz said in an open letter on the La Salle athletics website. "The size of our athletics department compromises our ability to provide an exceptional, transformational experience for our student-athletes. Our resources and support services for our student-athletes are stretched too thinly across too many sports teams."

La Salle's baseball program dates back to 1947. The club reached the NCAA tournament twice (1964 and 1985) and has three former players that have reached the majors with the most recent being right-hander Tom Filer who spent parts of six seasons in the bigs between 1982 and 1992. 

The program has had just one winning season (2011) over the last 20 years, however, head coach David Miller appeared to have the program turning the corner with three nationally recognized recruiting classes and an 11 win increase from 2018 (14) to 2019 (25). The team was 5-9 this year before COVID-19 derailed the season in March. 

"Baseball has given me more in my life [than] I ever could have imagined," Connor Hinchliffe tweeted on Tuesday. "I’ve found a true love and passion for this game and I would not have been able to do so without. It is heartbreaking to see this taken away from these players." 

Hinchliffe inked a minor league deal with the Phillies following his time at La Salle last year. He's a product of the changing culture that Miller and Co. have built at La Salle. It's unfortunate that now it seems the program is shutting down following the 2021 season.

"It's important to note that this is not a cost-cutting decision, but rather a strategic effort to reallocate our investment in a way that better aligns with our student-centered mission," said Hanycz. "The athletics department has been underfunded, and our facilities and our support staff have been spread thinly in supporting 25 programs." 

Miller, now entering his fourth season at the helm, had plans to build the Explorers into a regional powerhouse. The 2021 roster includes 16 players from Pennsylvania, six from New Jersey, and one each from Maryland, New York, and West Virginia. 
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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