WINNIPEG – It was supposed to be the Winnipeg Wesmen baseball team’s year end party on Tuesday, but they didn’t have any reason to celebrate after just learning their team was cut by the university.
“I was devastated.” said Wesmen catcher Kyle Becker. “I didn’t see it coming. We were all getting pumped up for next year and then we just got told we got canned, so it’s rough. It’s hard for us.”
“It hit me hard because I’m going into my senior year.” said pitcher Tyler Moskalyk.
“Next year we were supposed to have a big year and I just feel like it’s been ripped out from us.”
The University of Winnipeg announced they were eliminating three teams effective immediately. In addition to the men’s baseball team, the men’s and women’s wrestling programs were chopped, while the men’s soccer team has been put on hold for next season.
RELATED: University of Winnipeg cuts wrestling, baseball teams in effort to balance budget
For the university it came down to academics over athletics in their cost-cutting measures. In the end it was the most recent teams that got the axe.
“We wanted to, as much as possible, preserve academics excellence and support for students.” said Chris Minaker, the universities senior executive officer.
“This is a financial decision, eliminating the teams will yield approximately $400,000.”
Wesmen head coach Morgan de Pena was shocked when he was informed of the decision and he spent the day dealing with angry parents.
“We got kids from across the country and now they’re asking me, and their parents are asking me what are we going to do ? Where is he going to school ? What happens now ? Is there a way of fighting this ? I don’t know all the answers.” de Pena said.
What’s even more confusing for de Pena is he says the team was completely self-sustaining and didn’t receive funding from the school, coming up with their own cash to cover their $130,000 a year budget.
“We’re not an expense so I’m caught off guard as to why we’re done.” said de Pena. “We raised all of our own money. The players pay a player fee of $3,500 per player and we also fundraised.”
But according to the University of Winnipeg they put $21,000 into the baseball team this season.
“The intent was, I think to have it be completely self-sustaining.” said Minaker. “In reality, it wasn’t quite and it was an expense and therefore it was eliminated.”
“I wish they would have approached me about that.” de Pena said. “If there had been any cost, the university should have informed us that there was expenses out there. We would have made restitution for that.”
Just a couple days ago the Wesmen were only one win away from their first ever berth in the conference tournament, but now players are left wondering where or if they’ll be playing.
“Probably just stay home, call it a career.” Becker said.
“I pitched my last inning this weekend and I didn’t even know I was, so I didn’t even get to appreciate it.” said Moskalyk.
Despite eliminating the three teams, the school says they will honour all existing scholarships. But that won’t help players on the baseball team as they weren’t playing on scholarships.
WATCH: Winnipeg Wesmen Baseball Team Eliminated