Soccer dad calls AU ‘callous and disingenuous’

By Don Dyson

I would like to share a parent’s perspective who was there during the entire process and has a reasonable idea of the impact this decision had on my son and our family. Taylor (Dyson) made his decision to attend Ashland back in March and signed his letter of intent to play for coach Freeman. His decision came down between Ashland and Bellarmine University and he chose Ashland because of coach Freeman and the guys he met from the team.  It really felt like a community and he felt it was the right place for him.  So, when he got the text on May 27 (he was on his senior trip to Cedar Point) to contact coach Freeman immediately he had no idea what he was in store for.  I can just imagine what was going through his mind on that bus ride home as his classmates were celebrating the decisions they had made about their future and here he was in total limbo. 

Taylor is a pretty upbeat kid and I have never seen the energy zapped from him like I saw over the next few weeks. It was just so sad to see a loved one’s heart ripped out even though in the grand scheme of things I realize this was not a momentous situation. We immediately went back to Bellarmine, but they had given his soccer scholarship ($4,500) away and had replaced him as a recruit. The Bellarmine coach did not feel comfortable bringing Taylor on even as a walk on since he already felt he had too many kids coming in. We immediately restarted the search but quickly found soccer scholarship money was gone and rosters were mostly set. It was extremely difficult to even get in contact with coaches given the time of year. We were able to get some interest from a few Division III schools but the added tuition expense was considerable. 

In the end, it came down to two NAIA schools, Georgetown College and Mount Vernon Nazarene. He finally decided on MVNU just three weeks ago. The package is ok but I can tell you he has been extremely frustrated by being put in this situation – basically being forced into making a life-impacting, significant decision under duress. We have constantly preached to Taylor that life is about how you handle adversity and I’m sure he will bounce back from this a stronger person. However, I will never forgive Ashland University for how they handled this entire situation. I was a college baseball coach at the Division III and Division I level, and I have never seen such a callous and disingenuous decision made by a university in my life. To think that the cancelation of this program was going to right the financial woes of Ashland University is preposterous. Someone felt a little pressure and made a quick decision in hopes of showing they were actively seeking resolution to a problem. Unfortunately, they were oblivious to the emotional welfare of twenty-some student athletes, many who have been exemplary contributors to the Ashland University community. I find it a sad and woeful day when a university puts the almighty dollar sign ahead of the hopes and spirits of college students. Will Ashland University survive this?…certainly. But not without a stigma that will make student-athletes, parents and even the coaching and faculty community think twice about the professionalism and trustworthiness of the school. I, for one, will be spreading the word about the TRUE ASHLAND CHARACTER at every turn to anyone who will listen, and there have been many. I have even been successful at getting a few to cross Ashland off their list. 

-Don Dyson, father of former Ashland soccer recruit Taylor Dyson