Heather Weems, athletic director at St. Cloud State University, announced Wednesday that the school is cutting six sports from its athletic department after the current academic year.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, about 80 student athletes will be affected by the cuts. The cuts will eliminate men’s and women’s tennis, women’s Nordic skiing, men’s cross country and men’s track and field. Roster reductions will also be coming to retained sports, including football.
“This has been a very difficult process and decision,” Weems said. “Athletics expenses continue to increase across all sports each year and we are not able to meet the financial and support expectations of our programs.”
Coaches were told of the news during a meeting Wednesday morning, and a group of hundreds of athletes were told just moments later.
Interim director of athletic media relations Thomas Nelson said there was no good way of breaking the news to so many people at once.
“It was an emotional day for everybody,” Nelson said.
St. Cloud State, along with other schools across Minnesota, is dealing with falling enrollment and budget shortfalls. The announced cuts will save the athletic department about $250,000 or 5 percent of their general fund.
In order to remain compliant with Title IX laws, roster numbers must be tweaked on the school’s 17 remaining programs. That means reductions to football, men’s baseball, wrestling and men’s swimming and diving and gains among women’s track.
When considering which programs to cut, the school considered several factors including history and tradition of the programs, conditions of facilities, competitive success, investment needs, engagement with alumni, financial support and regional interest.
The university said athletes affected by the cuts will retain their current scholarships.