The UConn Division of Athletics announced on Wednesday that it will reduce the number of sports it sponsors by four, effective at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year. This action was taken as part of the university’s overall budget reduction effort and allows the Division to meet a university directive calling for a 25 percent reduction (approximately $10 million) in institutional support by 2023.
Affected programs are men’s cross country, women’s rowing, men’s swimming and diving, and men’s tennis. The move affects 124 student-athletes and four coaches.
The reduction of sport programs was approved by the UConn Board of Trustees at their meeting on Wednesday.
“While this is a painful decision, it is in the best interest of the long-term viability of UConn and UConn athletics,” said UConn President Thomas Katsouleas. “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.”
Beginning in 2021-22, UConn will sponsor 20 intercollegiate athletics programs providing athletic and academic opportunities to approximately 530 student-athletes. Average sports sponsorship among Big East institutions is 18, while schools playing in the American Athletic Conference sponsor an average of 17.
In addition to the reduction in sports, other actions will be employed in order to reduce the financial deficit. These measures include a reduction in operating expenses by 15 percent, achieved in part by more regionalized non-conference team travel for a number of sports and fewer summer school classes for student-athletes. Additionally, the university will reduce the cost of scholarships for several internal units across campus, including athletics, beginning in the 2020-21 academic year. Also, the number of scholarships offered in the sports of men’s golf and men’s track and field will be decreased.
The overall plan is estimated to realize a savings of approximately $10 million annually.
“This was a very difficult, but necessary, decision,” Director of Athletics David Benedict said. “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 road map for a bright future for UConn athletics.”
The university will honor all scholarships of affected student-athletes who choose to continue their education at UConn and complete their degree in four years.
UConn athletics is committed to providing support to affected student-athletes through the transition process. Staff members from athletics compliance, the student-athlete success program, athletic training, and mental health services will assist students as needed, including the areas of scholarship and transfer information, academics and counseling services.
“As difficult as this decision is for us as trustees, it is far more difficult for the student-athletes, coaches and staff who are impacted,” said UConn Board of Trustees chairman Daniel Toscano. “For the remaining student-athletes, we hope the decision we made today will enable us to provide to you the kind of positive experience you deserve and expect from us.”