Non-runners might have missed the story in Wednesday’s sports section. But Sonoma State University has decided to drop its women’s track program 11 years after it was reinstated in 1996. The decision is ironic for several reasons.

First, track has long been associated with academic excellence. The ancient Greeks understood that running, jumping and throwing the discus helped the mind develop, too. Given its rich history and tradition, it seems like track should be the last sport to be eliminated from the roster of a small liberal arts college. Indeed, soccer coach Luke Oberkirch notes that the track team “consistently had the highest overall GPA in the (sports) department…”

Second, the North Coast is well-known and respected for its development of young runners. This is the community that turned out Julia Stamps, Sara Bei, Amber Trotter and Jenny Aldridge. With the closure of SSU’s program, aspiring runners will have no choice but to leave the area in order to run competitively in a four-year college.

Finally, one of the primary factors in the decision is the decrepit condition of the track, which is so deteriorated that it can’t be used for meets. The estimated $3.5 million price tag for a new track is high — but pales in comparison to the Green Music Center, which will cost nearly $100 million to build. While the music center is an amazing project, it seems that SSU’s first priority should be to maintaining the facilities it has before building new ones.

— Ann DuBay