'He does not have the authority to decide what happens with club sports.' Rob Fournier assured me that there would be a reprimand of some sort, but surely that support for club sports would be reaffirmed,”
Over 30 student athletes attended an open Student Senate meeting on Dec. 1 to address the Senate and President Wilson. Photo by Sarah Rahal.

After being told their season was revoked, the men's club lacrosse team gathered over 30 club sports participants to address the Wayne State Student Senate, President M. Roy Wilson and Provost Keith Whitfield on Dec. 1.

In October, The South End reported that the lacrosse team was making a comeback after a two-year hiatus.

After setting up a meeting with Christy Nolan, associate athletic director and director of campus recreation, on Nov. 3 to transition into new management as the season approached, they were suspended as a team for unfiled paperwork.   

“The forms and rec fees were something that was a lot more lenient under [Justin Harden], who was the previous head of club sports. After he left, Christy came in and started cracking the whip on all that,” said Luke Lorio, treasurer of men's lacrosse. “Every other club sport had a team previously with Justin, went through the years with Justin, then went back to it, So, everything prior to Justin they knew about, we didn't. So, Christy told us 'you can't have club activities going anymore,' so that's when our second group of games got cancelled.”

A club council meeting took place later that same day, requiring a board member from each club sports team to be present.

Ben Serra, co-president of men's lacrosse, said when his team’s board member arrived, Assistant Director of Facilities and Finance of the Mort Harris Recreation Center Rob Latva would not begin until the lacrosse representative left the room. 

“We have talked to people. They said they did discuss our team and what to do with our money from fundraising,” co-president Anthony Carabelli said.

“They made it a requirement and then told him 'you have no right to be here,'” Serra said.

Serra said Nolan relayed messages from his boss, Athletics Director Rob Fournier, during their meeting. 

“He told us his boss said 'Don't they know they aren't part of athletics? Didn't you beat that into their little undergraduate heads?'” Serra said.

“Then, [Nolan] said 'Well, I thought I did, but they lower the standards here when they open up enrollment,'” Serra said.

The South End reached out to Nolan for interview requests, but has not received a response.

At the Dec. 1 Student Senate meeting, representatives from club women's volleyball, men's lacrosse, archery and men's and women's soccer said they were told club sports had to be re-evaluated and possibly disbanded after the winter semester.

Student Senate members collected statements from representatives, all stating they have had conflict or inappropriate language from Nolan, including “You should get your friends and go play in a rec league somewhere else and leave the athletics to the actual student athletes of Wayne State.”

President Wilson addressed the Senate and students, saying he heard of the situation a few weeks ago and had a conversation with Fournier.

“This is what I got from him. 'Chris was totally out of line, the things he said were inappropriate. He does not have the authority to decide what happens with club sports.' Rob Fournier assured me that there would be a reprimand of some sort, but surely that support for club sports would be reaffirmed,” Wilson said. 

“You will not find a greater advocate for sports in general. I think the world of sports,” Wilson said. “If you continue to see any issues of nonsupport or reluctance or remarks, I invite you to email me personally.”

Student Senate President Anthony Eid said club sports were an important part of student culture at WSU.

“Not only is it something to participate in, but it is something to value as a student. I think it should also be noted that they completely fund themselves. It comes at no cost at the university,” Eid said. 

“For many of us, club sports were an instrumental reason why we came to Wayne State. Club sports benefit the school. Club sports attract high school graduates. It also helps keep these students at the university,” Serra said.

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Rahal at sarahal@wayne.edu.

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