The University of Akron announced severe budget-cutting actions Thursday, including the elimination of three sports.
The NCAA Division I university in Ohio is dropping men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis at the end of the 2019-20 school year, according to a press release on gozips.com.
“The action is being taken as part of the University’s overall redesign to emerge from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that financially stabilizes the institution,” the press release said.
“We are very saddened that we have had to make this move, but it is important and necessary at this time,” Akron athletic director Larry Williams wrote in a statement, noting that he informed the affected student-athletes in a Thursday morning video conference. “This action aligns us with our Mid-American Conference peers in total number of sports and is part of our ongoing effort to realign University resources to ensure that we continue to invest in high-demand, high-quality academic programs and world-class facilities.”
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Williams said that eliminating sports will combine with other cost-saving measures like coaches’ salary reductions, eliminated staff positions, and scholarship and operating reductions to save about $4.4 million. The Akron press release said that these actions will reduce the university’s financial support of the athletic department by about 23 percent.
According to WKSU, Akron's faculty union president Pam Schulze questioned spending priorities earlier this week.
"Students have to have an expectation that their tuition and fees are principally going to their education," said Schulze, a professor of child and family development.
Akron president Gary Miller agreed too much money was spent on athletics, but, prior to the cuts, less than six percent of the university's overall budget went toward sports. WKSU also reported that Miller said being a Division I school helps attract students.
The university will now have 10 women’s sports and seven men’s sports, keeping them one sport above the 16 required to be a Division I member.
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Akron plans to offer assistance to any student-athlete who chooses to transfer to another university. A total of three coaches, one graduate assistant and 32 athletes were impacted by the eliminations.
“We have wonderful student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff who make a tremendous contribution to campus life,” Williams wrote. “This is a difficult day for all of them, and for all of us.”
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