After receiving approval from the Board of Trustees on Wednesday, the University of Connecticut has cut its men’s tennis, swimming and diving and cross-country teams, as well as its women’s rowing program.
The changes, as proposed during Wednesday’s meeting, are part of a mandate for the athletics department to cut 25% of its $42 million subsidy from the university over the next three years.
“While this is a painful decision, it is in the best interest of the long-term viability of UConn and UConn athletics,” UConn President Thomas Katsouleas said in a press release. “The Division of Athletics recently completed a thorough and comprehensive review of its operation and programs, an inquiry initiated long before the COVID-19 crisis began. For several years, the level of institutional financial support committed to athletics has been growing. Today, we shared some difficult decisions that nonetheless should chart a course towards better financial sustainability at a level of support and sport sponsorship more in line with our peers.”
The cut is set to begin after the current academic year, with scholarships for athletes of the four removed sports being honored, should they continue to pursue a degree at UConn and graduate in four years.
“This was a very difficult, but necessary, decision,” Athletic Director David Benedict said in a statement. “Reducing expenses is critical to our financial sustainability but that doesn’t make this decision any more palatable for the student-athletes and coaches on the affected teams. We are committed to providing impacted Huskies with our full support during this transition, whether they wish to stay at UConn or transfer to another institution. Despite our current emotions, we are optimistic that the financial plan approved today will serve as an important roadmap for a bright future for UConn athletics.”
Prior to the decision being announced, several alumni and coaches pled their cases to keep their respective programs alive, including Michael Roy, son of current Track & Field head coach Greg Roy, UConn tennis alumnus Angelo Rossetti and current UConn women’s rowing coach Jennifer Sanford, among many others. In all, 124 student-athletes and at least four coaches will be affected by this decision.
“I did not believe rowing would be part of this proposal,” Sanford said during the meeting. “Obviously, I was mistaken. Very few saw this coming. If approved, UConn would be the only Division I rowing program in the country that has been cut.”
Along with cutting sports, UConn athletics is taking further measures with hopes to reduce the financial deficit. These include cutting operating expenses by 15% and reducing the cost of scholarships for athletics beginning in the 2020-21 academic year. Furthermore, Benedict has also taken a voluntary 15% pay cut, and will not take any cash bonuses.
While the cuts were financially necessary, it is still saddening to see these teams go. The Daily Campus Sports Section has enjoyed our time covering every sport UConn offers and wishes the best to the players and coaches impacted.
“We realize that this decision, as difficult as it might be for us as trustees, it is far more difficult for the student-athletes, coaches and staffs who are impacted,” Board of Trustees chairman Dan Toscano said. “Remember, these are our students. This is our family.