University Of Akron To Cut Three Athletics Teams

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The University of Akron has announced that three athletics teams will be cut due to budgetary constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to UA community members, Athletic Director Larry Williams said men's golf, women's tennis and men's cross country teams are being eliminated. Williams said the cuts will save the university $4.4 million. 

Twenty of the 32 students enrolled in those athletic programs are receiving scholarships, Williams said, some of which cover the full cost of attending the university. Those scholarships will not be up for renewal in the upcoming school year.

“It’s a really difficult area in which to make these hard decisions,” Williams said. “But ultimately, as an institution, they have to be made.”

The University’s faculty union president Pam Schulze this week questioned spending priorities that show increased funding for athletics but declining support for instruction and research. 

“Students have to have an expectation that their tuition and fees are principally going to their education," Schulze, a professor of child and family development, said. 

University President Gary Miller said being a Division I school helps Akron attract students, noting that 56 percent of the 515 student athletes are not on scholarship and less than six percent of the school’s overall budget goes toward sports.

Miller said the university wants to remain a Division I school and changing divisions would be costly.

“You don’t lose costs when you move to other divisions. You still have to pay for coaches, still have to pay for facilities, you still have to travel students,” he said. “We believe that the best course of action is to work with our Division I partners in Ohio and the region to develop a better Division I model.”

There’s also a $4 million exit fee to leave the Mid American Conference. He said constructive conversations are going on among MAC schools to develop what he calls a more rational mid-major DI program.

The university announced the cuts this week to allow affected students and employees time to find new schools if needed, according to a press release. Students who decide to transfer will have the full support of the university throughout that process, Williams said.

Copyright 2020 WKSU. To see more, visit WKSU.
ideastream's Taylor Haggerty contributed to this report.

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