Colleges have a habit of cutting programs when financial problems arise


It shouldn’t have been surprising when college athletics departments nationwide began pushing cuts to programs amid the covid-19 pandemic.

It’s already arrived.

“When we see schools downsizing teams in larger numbers, it’s almost always, if not always, because of economic downturns,” said Victoria Jackson, sports historian and clinical assistant professor at Arizona State. “The Great Recession (2007-2009) was therefore another time in which hundreds of teams were cut.”

Colleges began laying off athletic staff, cutting hours for swimming pools and training grounds, and increasing equipment and facility costs throughout the Great Recession, The New York Times reported in 2009. Some have eliminated travel that required air travel and eliminated overnight hotel crews. before home games.

Universities have also cut scholarships and asked teams to find different ways of funding.

Between fiscal years 2007-08 and 2009-10, 101 Division I teams were eliminated, according to NCAA data. During the 2006-07 fiscal year, 66 teams were eliminated.

Locally, Duquesne was the only school to cut teams during this period. In 2010, the school dropped out of baseball, golf, men’s swimming, and wrestling. The money saved has been reallocated within the department, according to David Saba, Duquesne’s deputy athletic director.

Before those sports were discontinued, Duquesne only won two Atlantic 10 championships in 34 years: men’s basketball in 1977 and men’s cross country in 2005. After the cuts, the school won. 11 conference titles in 11 seasons: women’s cross-country, swimming, volleyball and football and four in football.

According to Phil Racicot, who held several administrative positions at Duquesne and was Interim Sports Director in 2015, the decision to drop the programs was based on several factors, including gender equity and Title IX, competitiveness. programs in the Atlantic 10, installation limits and financial constraints.

“This was not the result of a response to a specific situation or mandate, but a long deliberation on how to strategically improve a core of programs in the environment at the time,” Racicot said. , who is now the athletic director of Keene State in New Hampshire.

After the recession, teams nationwide were still abandoned, but at apparently slower rates. Between 2010 and 2018, the pace at which Division I teams were downsized varied, according to NCAA data. In FY2010-11, the number of quit teams peaked at 38, and in FY2015-16, the rate dropped to 15 quits.

Given the history of universities dropping out of sports, Jackson said, it’s no surprise to see decisions made during the pandemic.

However, she noted that the pandemic had likely highlighted issues within intercollegiate athletics.

“Cutting teams when you have budget deficits shows that serving students in these sports is not the priority,” Jackson said.

“The fact that (Pac-12) and the Big Ten only played football last fall shows you where their priorities are.”

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