In a move that is unprecedented in the history of college athletic programs, the entire Texas Tech Chess Team is transferring to the Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. This is an especially harsh blow to the university, as the team is just coming off an impressive run at the National Chess Championships which was capped off by their second consecutive title win.
Just hours after capturing their second national crown, Texas Tech head coach Susan Polgar resigned from the school, leaving for Webster University and taking all of her players with her.
The team, which, besides Polgar, is comprised of seven members, will move to their new home starting next fall. Polgar, who has headed the program since 2007, has a storied record in the sport herself.
[She is] a self-taught prodigy from Hungary who became the top-ranked female player in the world at 15 and has multiple world records related to the game. She developed Texas Tech into an unlikely chess powerhouse since her arrival in 2007.
The team’s members, like Polgar herself, hail mostly from outside the United States, with students from Iran, Germany, Israel, Hungry and other countries, making up the list. When asked, the students said that they felt no reservations about the move, explaining that they were lured with a guarantee of full scholarships for team members and a promise to them access to a state-of-the-art learning facility in the heart of the city.
St. Louis is home to the World Chess Congress Hall of Fame, which made Webster a natural fit for an already-successful program looking to spread its wings. Although it wasn’t the only college courting Polgar, Webster presented an unbeatable funding package, in addition to other perks. One of the things that made the decision to leave Texas Tech easier was the fact that since chess competition wasn’t governed by the NCAA, the current team members wouldn’t have to sit out a year before being eligible to compete for their new school.
Polgar claims that the program grew so rapidly that Tech was unable to keep up. There was simply not enough funding, and she felt that she had to put her players’ interests first.
Therefore she–along with her team members–feel that St. Louis is “the center of chess in America,” and therefore the “perfect fit” for her and her entire team.