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#FireJudyRose: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re a UNCC student and haven’t been living under a rock (no judgment – it’s finals week), then you’ve probably become familiar with the mania surrounding the current status of the two major “revenue sports” and the positions of leadership within the Charlotte athletics department. For those under the rock, take some time to read the facts because the answer is yes, it matters.

The extremely relevant (6.4K mentions in the past week) hashtag #FireJudyRose has taken the media by storm after fed up 49er fans are taking action against a struggling athletics program. Receiving numerous hits of local coverage and even a little national coverage, the student-sparked campaign to fire Athletic Director Judy Rose, has become a trending topic even far beyond the current UNCC student population.

Alumni of the school are outraged to the point where they would rather donate their money to the “firing fund” than their own alma mater. Aside from the plethora of backlash on social media and letters sent to the Board of Trustees, one alumnus went as far as spending $1,800 for a banner to be flown over this year’s homecoming game. A petition has also surfaced with over 1,300 signatures demanding a change.

Some have even gotten creative with the movement, creating T-shirts, snapchat filters and your one source for it all www.firejudyrose.com 

So, why is everyone so mad?

For starters, the 49er football team just finished a 1-11 season and after 5 years without any noticeable improvement in the program, it’s only natural to desire some sort of change. With such similar results over the past years, the blame has been placed not only on football head coach Brad Lambert, but also the higher management who has the ability to make changes to the coaching staff. Students and alumni want to be part of fan base that’s something to be proud of, and they’re ready to support one that is. The school raised over $5M last year – fans are still well able to back the program. But the question remains, where will people draw the line between wanting to support their school and deciding it’s a waste of time and effort?

The main reason why the issue has developed into such a “tragic” controversy is because of the complacency. Nothing is being done and the frustration from sitting back and witnessing the hundreds of people who agree on a solution while only the handful of people hold the power for change is getting out of hand.

Are they doing anything at all?

Unfortunately, yes. We’re not sure if it’s an attempt to respond to the cries for improvement or simply a poorly made decision, but men’s basketball coach Mark Price was abruptly fired Thursday after being only two years into his five year contract. The hypocrisy surrounding the decision stems from the fact that both Brad Lambert (7 years) and Judy Rose (27 years) remain in their positions after no success and Price is fired after a four-game losing streak. The issue isn’t questioning whether Mark Price was the right coach, but more so the clear lack of goals and consistency within the decision making process.

Rose stated that “we’re trending in the wrong direction,” meaning that she is at least understanding where angry fans are coming from. However the connection between the right direction and how to get there has yet to be made.

Why are people not focusing on other sports?

Chancellor Phillip Dubois is. In his highly anticipated radio interview with WFNZ, he called attention the positive things that have come out of’ Rose’s 27 years in the position like the success of both men’s and women’s soccer and the previously successful coach hirings. Even after being prompted to address the outstanding concerns of the 49er fan base, the chancellor said that now is not the time to make a decision. He even calls attention to the large amount of money tied up in the program (+$100M in athletic facilities, $29M budgets and an $11M endowment), but if anything it only adds to the frustration that we can’t figure out something as simple as well-fit coaching.

The bottom line in college sports today is that “revenue sports” (football and men’s basketball) are the main focus and the best shot for gaining media attention and a strong following. It’s not to say that no one cares about the other sports, but the success of a college sports program lies largely with its supporters and that support is dwindling. If the right changes aren’t made soon, both the future of UNCC sports teams and its fan base are at serious risk of being jeopardized.

Kim is a super senior who (finally) decided to pursue a degree in public relations after accepting her passion and talent for writing. She hopes to continue pursuing a career in the industry, incorporating social media and event planning. When she isn't busy as co-correspondent of the UNC Charlotte chapter, you can find her on a yoga mat, obsessing over her horoscope or binge-watching Gossip Girl for the fifth time.
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