Nov 22, 2011

8 Teams Eliminated at Maryland

The University of Maryland at College Park will discontinue six athletic programs—eight teams—effective July 1, 2012, in an effort to restore “financial health and sustainability” to the institution’s athletic program.

The teams to be eliminated include men’s cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track; men’s swimming and diving; men’s tennis; women’s acrobatics and tumbling; women’s swimming and diving; and women’s water polo.

According to Wallace D. Loh, the university’s president, the cuts became necessary to reduce operating deficits, which were projected to reach $8.7 million by 2013, if no changes were made.

“The University of Maryland has one of the largest slates of varsity sports in the Atlantic Coast Conference and in the nation,” said Loh. “As a result, given current budget realities, our teams are among the most thinly funded in the ACC on a per student-athlete basis.”

Unlike some other public universities, Maryland athletics does not receive state funds. Like most, Maryland relies on the two revenue-producing sports—football and men’s basketball—and television contracts associated with these sports to support others for which there is not a similar following.

This model has proven unsustainable, and Maryland was forced to make hard choices. The recommendations for team elimination came as a result of a year-long study completed by a commission charged with reviewing finances and operations.

Once the commission’s recommendations were made public, President Loh met with all affected student-athletes and coaches.

“Our conversations on the recommendation to reduce the number of varsity teams were fraught with sadness and anguish,” Loh reported. “I appreciate the years of commitment it takes to compete at the collegiate level, the sense of identity and family that is forged with a team; the personal qualities and life skills that athletics can help develop.”

Supporters of discontinued tams will be “given the opportunity to raise 8 years’ worth of total program costs” by June 30th and to raise endowment funding by 2020 to support individual programs in perpetuity.

In the meantime, students on affected teams will need to plan ahead. And high school students currently considering the University of Maryland will have to decide if these challenges to the university’s athletic program will affect future enrollment decisions.

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