An increasing number of athletic departments are facing financial crisis. It’s become increasingly difficult to find funding for a number of key areas–and as a result, all too many are eliminating programs in an effort to save those vital funds. At Eastern Michigan University, that meant the loss of women’s tennis and wrestling, softball, and men’s swimming and diving. Saluki Athletics chose to eliminate the men’s and women’s tennis teams as well as reducing the number of swimming scholarships offered. At the University at Buffalo, men’s soccer, men’s swimming and diving, and women’s rowing have been eliminated alongside baseball. These cuts claim to save the universities in question millions of dollars–but is it really accomplishing the goals they’ve set?
Poorly Written Budgets
When colleges and universities look at sports spending on paper, it doesn’t take long for them to see how much sports appear to cost. They look at the cost of scholarships offered to students, the amount of spending students are doing, and more. Unfortunately, there are several things that are missing from that equation. For example, as one noted sports economist points out, many additions to the budget may be filed under “miscellaneous” or “uncategorized” instead of being specifically listed under their sports. Eliminating programs, therefore, ,may look like straight savings, but might actually lose the university in question money.
Lost Tuition Costs
Having a team for a specific sport can bring even students who aren’t offered a specific scholarship or spot on the team streaming to the university in hopes of eventually securing a spot on the team, even as a walk-on. Dropping that sport means losing tuition for those students–but that may be information that’s not listed anywhere on the books, making it difficult to see exactly where those students will be lost. This is true even in schools that have plenty of room for open additional students. Schools may also receive NCAA help for scholarships offered for students in sports when they offer more than 150 scholarships per year–money that’s lost when eliminating programs. One accounting professor estimates that Eastern Michigan University will actually lose around $61,000 per year by cutting its projected sports.
Cutting athletics simply fails to have the results that many colleges and universities are hoping for. Unfortunately, the lost revenue doesn’t appear on budgets the way the numbers have been crunched in the past–and as a result, both students and universities may miss out on these valuable programs.