Clouds of uncertainty float above the Far Eastern University and its sports program. And they have the K-12 program to blame for it.
The Far Eastern University’s usual income has taken a hit recently due to the implementation of the K-12 educational program, and athletic director Mark Molina revealed that the university’s athletics program has become one of the unfortunate event’s adversaries.
On that note, the esteemed program was left with no choice but to halt the years-long campaigns of some of their varsity teams.
“We had to cut teams because affected yung budget natin ng K-12 — when there’s smaller enrollment,” Molina told Tiebreaker Times. “Ang funding ng athletics comes from athletic fees. So when there are less students, the budget naturally becomes lower.
“So because of that, we were faced with a tough decision not to join some tournaments.”
The first team to be affected was the Fencing Team, who did not see action this UAAP Season 79. That move was a bitter pill to swallow for head coach Wilfredo Vizcayno and the rest of the team, as they had all believed Season 79 could have been a fruitful year for the Tamaraw fencers.
“Siyempre nagulat [kami]. Sabi ko, parang biglaan naman [yung pagkaka-tanggal ng team],” shared Vizcayno, who has been with FEU since 2001 and was a member of the Men’s Team that won the Fencing crown back in 2005 –- the university’s lone title in the event.
“Nag-iiyakan na nga mga bata noon eh, kasi alam ng mga bata na itong season na ‘to, kaya nila mag-place. Dahil yung ibang school — UST, UP, Ateneo, lalo na La Salle — kung ‘di sila kulang sa player, baguhan yung meron sa kanila. Eh yung sa atin, halos lahat matatanda na maglaro. Kaya ang [iniisip] namin, kayang-kaya namin mag-place. Yun lang sana.”
“Sabi ko sa mga bata, kayo, try niyo maki-usap. Pero wala, ganoon pa rin. Siyempre iba yung bata ‘pag sila naki-usap eh. Wala, ganoon pa rin yung kinalabasan. ‘Di pa rin pinayagan,” Vizcayno added.
With the Fencing Team being cut, players were given an option to transfer, and two of their fencers, David Lumahan and Jancel Concepcion, decided to go to the De La Salle University and University of the East respectively, to continue their collegiate careers.
“We gave them the option naman to transfer to any school, and some of them did,” said Molina.
“Pag-transfer nila, wala nang residency kasi wala na tayong team.”
Asked if there had been any last-ditch efforts to convince the players not to jump schools anymore, Vizcayno admitted that he hadn’t made any, saying that he had just allowed the players to go on and resume their playing years in the league.
“Hinayaan ko sila. Paano kasi, yung iba gusto talaga maglaro ng UAAP, so ni-let go ko sila,” said Vizcayno. “‘Di naman ako yung coach na pipigilan yung gusto nila.”
Aside from the Fencing Team, another squad that is facing the axe for next season is the Badminton Team, winners of five UAAP crowns — their last championship brought by the Women’s Team back in 2011.
“Badminton for next year,” regretfully confirmed Molina.
“Mahirap talaga for us to join [some tournaments] in the next couple of years.”
Still, the athletic director, who has been with FEU for the last 12 years, remains hopeful that no other team will suffer the same fate as the Fencing and Badminton Teams.
Both teams still have a chance to be reinstated though, but it will all depend on how the year 2018 will turn out for the university.
“Hopefully wala na. We’ll find out. Kasi everything in the university is uncertain because of K-12.
“So by 2018, when there will be a freshman batch again, we’ll know at that time siguro if the usual population, usual student enrollees of FEU will be here already, kasi our budget really depends on the number of students,” explained Molina. “May chance [na makabalik yung teams]. We’ll review after, pagdating ng 2018. Definitely, it won’t be this year and next year.
“Siguro if we will join most sports, the earliest will be 2019.”
The whole sports program of the 89-year-old academic institution may be hounded with problems, but Molina assured that the Tamaraw athletes –- especially those whose teams were scrapped — are still in good hands. as FEU continues to provide athletes scholarships despite the financial backlog.
“The scholarships especially [of] those who didn’t transfer, yung mga malapit na gumraduate, we’re still giving [it to] them,” he stated.
“Some of them are still with us and still on scholarships, kasi we had a commitment to the athletes na we can support them until they finish [their studies].”
Tiebreaker Times got in touch with FEU Badminton head coach Lloyd Escoses but he declined to make any comment regarding the matter.