Missouri is slashing state funding to higher education and much of that money is coming from the state's college athletics programs.
In order to balance Missouri’s state budget, Governor Eric Greitens cut $251 million in spending, $36 million of which was gouged from higher education.
According to a report from the Kansas City Star, public colleges and universities at all levels will feel the pinch. Missouri State has cut its field hockey team and UMKC will be without cheerleaders.
In 2016, UMKC had an athletic budget of $14.7 million. This year, the school will have to trim $1.5 million from its athletics budget. Dropping the cheerleading squad will trim $45,000 and affect 20 squad members.
Cheerleading coach Dawn Todd told the Star she was “shocked” by news her program was being cut. “It wasn’t just losing a team, it’s been part of my life,” she said.
After eliminating five full-time positions, UMKC is also looking at ways to shore up travel expenses. As part of the Western Athletic Conference, UMKC competes with schools on the West Coast, including California and Washington. Athletic Director Carla Wilson said the cuts have been difficult. “It’s been very tough work, and it’s not over. Resources are tight. We’re working on this every single day,” Wilson said.
Missouri State, which had a 2016 budget of $26.2 million, is also being squeezed. The school has reduced expenses in each of its athletic programs by 7-12 percent. It’s also cut scholarships and restructured some aid programs for student athletes.
Missouri State also cut its field hockey team, which saved about $1.1 million and included a roster of 17, including 12 scholarship athletes. Athletic director Kyle Moats said, “Cutting a sport is the worst thing you can do as an athletic director. It’s the toughest thing to do and there was nobody who wanted that.”
Mizzou, which enjoyed $97 million in revenue from the SEC in 2016, is also looking at ways to save. The Tigers are cutting some technology upgrades and other equipment purchases, which will shave about $1.4 million in spending in the coming year.