The University of Connecticut “must do away with some teams and programs,” according to Mike Anthony of the Hartford Current. Anthony, who covers UConn athletics regularly, suggests that the school might have to cut as many as 8 of its 24 athletics programs, which would leave it at the minimum 16 to continue as an FBS football program – the top level of collegiate football.
Financial pressure in Storrs has continued to mount over the last week, with the school warning that revenue losses due to the coronavirus pandemic could force ‘deep cuts’ to academic and athletic programs in the coming year. The school has not explicitly said that they will cut programs, but have said that big financial cuts to “academic, administrative, athletics, literally everything we do” are coming.
The school is projecting between $65 million and $129 million in revenue lost if the university moves classes online in the fall, with that decision planned to be made by June 30.
The school has instructed the athletics department to reduce its university subsidy by $10 million per year by 2023. That’s similar territory to East Carolina, which announced the cut of 4 programs, including swimming & diving, earlier this week as part of an effort to close a $10 million-per-year budget deficit. ECU sponsored 20 sports previously, which made it the second-biggest program in the AAC behind UConn’s 24.
Announcements on cost reductions are expected after a June 12 budget workshop.
Part of the proposal to close the gap is to count out-of-state student-athletic scholarships at an in-state value, which is really just a budget shift from athletics to the university, but would be projected to shrink the subsidy by about $4 million.
A big piece of the gap has to do with UConn’s return to the Big East Conference, where they will return as a member on July 1, 2020. That will make the football team an independent, as the basketball-focused Big East doesn’t sponsor football. Leaving the Big East includes a $17 million AAC exit fee.
In the 2018-2019 season, UConn reported operating revenues for athletics of just over $79 million, which included $30 million in direct institutional support and another $8 million in student fees. That amounts to over $60,000 for each of the department’s approximately 650 student-athletes in subsidies alone, in addition to the costs that are covered by athletics department revenues and donations. In-state tuition at UConn was under $18,000 for in-state students in 2019-2020.
Their department’s total expenses were $80,905,645. As recently as 2013, the department did not require a financial subsidy, but a move to the AAC hurt its media revenues. The hope is that the move to the Big East Conference with the powerhouse UConn basketball program will result in a bigger television payout. The Big East signed a 12-year, $500 million media rights agreement with Fox in 2013.
UConn football has signed an independent television deal with CBS Sports Network, and while the school did not disclose financial terms, they said it is worth “seven figures,” meaning between $1 million and $10 million.
So far, NCAA Division I institutions have announced the cut of 17 athletics programs since the coronavirus pandemic began. Some of those programs, like ECU, were already in financial trouble, which was exacerbated by the pandemic. Schools that have cut programs include Akron, Bowling Green State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, East Carolina, FIU, Furman, Old Dominion, and Wisconsin-Green Bay.
NCAA Division I programs cut
- Akron (17). Men’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s tennis.
- Bowling Green (17). Men’s baseball
- Central Michigan (16). Men’s indoor track & field, Men’s outdoor track & field
- Cincinnati (18). Men’s soccer
- East Carolina (16): Men’s swimming, Women’s swimming, Men’s tennis, Women’s tennis
- FIU (16). Men’s indoor track & field.
- Furman (18). Men’s baseball, Men’s lacrosse.
- Old Dominion (18). Men’s wrestling.
- Wisconsin-Green Bay (18). Men’s golf, Women’s golf.
Number in parenthesis represents varsity programs that the schools will sponsor in 2020-2021.
The UConn women’s swimming & diving team finished 6th out of 6 teams at the 2020 AAC Conference Championship meet, while the UConn men finished 4th out of 4 teams. The defending men’s conference champions from ECU having been cut and UConn’s departure leaves just Cincinnati and SMU sponsoring men’s swimming programs in the American.
UConn Sponsored Sports
- Cross Country
- Ice hockey
- Swimming & diving
- Track & Field (indoor/outdoor)
- Cross country
- Field hockey
- Ice hockey
- Swimming & diving
- Track & field (indoor/outdoor)