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University of Akron Forms a Special Task Force on Athletics Spending

A photo of the University of Akron.
After a mass employee layoff and in the middle of union contract negotiations, the University of Akron creates a task force to review its spending on athletics.

The University of Akron announced the formation of a task force to review athletics spending. This comes just a week after trustees cut 178 jobs, including 96 union faculty. And as the union threatens not to approve contract concessions by an Aug. 3 deadline.

The task forcewill begin work this fall looking into the University's athletics budget and its status in Division I sports. In an email, UA President Gary Miller said he wants to have a thorough discussion of the "complex issues" surrounding D-I.

UA leadership and faculty have been at odds over sports spending, with the professors union wanting more money invested in academics amid layoffs and deep budget cuts. The union cites the fact that the UA loses money on top tier sports.

Miller has been an advocate for staying in D-I, citing a multimillion dollar buyout the university would have to pay to exit the Mid-American Conference.

Earlier this year the university eliminated three sports programs and announced it would cut its athletics budget by $4.4 million as part of an effort to close a $64 million budget shortfall in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Arehart joined the award-winning WKSU news team as its arts/culture reporter in 2017. Before coming to Northeast Ohio, Arehart hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He previously worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.