MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The University of Minnesota Board of Regents will consider a motion Friday to eliminate men’s gymnastics, men’s tennis and both indoor and outdoor men’s track and field at the Twin Cities campus.

WCCO spoke Wednesday with student-athlete Eli Hoeft, a member of the men’s track and field team.

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“Our team has had a lot of contact with the regents. You know … I think we had 102 handwritten letters to different regents, even people going to their houses and sending emails and hopping on phone calls with them to sort of spread our message and, you know, try to convince them to see why track and field is such a good sport, and why it brings so much opportunity,” Hoeft said.

Gopher student-athletes, like cross-country runner Anastasia Korzenowski, have tried to reiterate this point to the board.

“We definitely have some that are on our side. They’ve told us that they see our points and understand where they’re coming from,” Korzenowski said.

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The opportunity goes beyond competition and achievement, for domestic and international students alike. Men’s track and field team member Ekhardt Van Der Watt is from South Africa.

“The University of Minnesota gave me a shot and opened my mind, opened my eyes to so much bigger, not just being an athlete but being an individual,” Van Der Watt said.

These student-athletes have made their voices known to the Board of Regents, but Wednesday’s sit-in outside the McNamara Alumni Center is one last message to the board before they consider Friday’s proposition.

“We are optimistic, we absolutely are. And we think that we can win this fight, but we still have to hold on and wait til Friday,” Korzenowski said. “Have that one last moment of ‘hopefully this all works out.’”

The proposal aims to help offset the budget shortfall, but the cost will be heavy.

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“The University of Minnesota track and field team is not just a team,” Van Der Watt said. “It’s a family, it takes people in, it gives them a hope.”

Norman Seawright III