My name is Mike Herauf and I am a pole vaulter on the University of Minnesota Track and Field team. The first day I picked up a pole vault pole, my life changed. In this sport, I found my true passion. Every day since then I’ve worked my butt off going to camps and doing drills on the weekends, at night and in the rain to be the best that I could be. This hard work paid off as I went on to set the North Dakota state record in the Pole Vault my senior year of high school. This story is one that resonates with a lot of my teammates and other high schoolers around the nation. Track and Field is one of the few sports where there is absolutely no discrimination because your times/marks are what assess your ability. For some, college athletics is the only way to get into a University and get a degree.

When I was looking at schools I wanted to venture out and try something new. Minnesota was the perfect combination where I could get a prestigious degree, compete at the highest level and be a part of a team that is far more diverse than my hometown in Dickinson, North Dakota. I can guarantee that I would have not gotten into the University of Minnesota if it were not for my athletic ability. This team is my family and has exposed me to people around the world. Not once have I ever considered transferring because this is where I am meant to be. Now, I walk to practice and I feel unwanted because of the decision made by the University administration. There is an empty feeling in my stomach. I can no longer strive to be successful for the University, but only for my team. This is not a temporary decision due to COVID-19. This is a permanent decision made by the athletic department and it makes me sick.

I have been proud to be a gopher but with my time ticking away, I start to feel the betrayal and see what is truly important to the University of Minnesota. We should not be the victims of poor decisions made by the athletic department. Please, do not take away the opportunities of young men that are working day and night to accomplish the same dreams as me.