Report: Fate of UConn Athletics Looming in June 24 Board of Trustees Meeting

How the University of Connecticut plans to cut down its athletics budget will be revealed at a June 24 Board of Trustees meeting, the Hartford Currant reported last week. Athletic director David Benedict will present his proposal for the cuts, or maybe multiple proposals, at the meeting.

The athletic department reportedly has to cut approximately $10 million from its budget over the next three years, as the university will be lowering its contribution to athletics from $40 million $30 million – it’s been reported that multiple sports programs could be under the ax, and swimming is often one of the first to go in these situations.

According to the Courant’s report, in recent years, athletics has been taking in about $40 million and spending more than $80 million annually.

On May 23, Benedict said that eliminating sports is a major consideration, as UConn fields 24 varsity sports, which is eight more than the minimum for Division I status. UConn will join the Big East Conference on July 1 (and had to pay $17 million to exit the AAC), and its current sport count is six more than the average per school across the conference.

UConn’s situation is similar to that of East Carolina University, which announced the cut of four programs – including swimming & diving – last month as part of an effort to close a $10 million-per-year budget deficit. ECU previously sponsored 20 sports, which made it the second-biggest program in the AAC behind UConn’s 24.

The UConn women’s swimming & diving team finished sixth out of six teams at the 2020 AAC Conference Championship meet, while the UConn men finished fourth out of four teams. The defending men’s conference champions from ECU having now been cut, coupled with UConn’s departure, leaves just Cincinnati and SMU sponsoring men’s swimming programs in the American.

A group of former track and field athletes called into the meeting of the UConn board’s financial affairs committee last Friday to advocate for their program, but the committee chose to delay the topic of athletics. The track program has raised more than $1.5 million, according to the Courant, and the school’s golf and tennis programs have “received financial support from alums in the form of long-term pledges” (golf has reportedly raised $500,000).

A representative from the UConn swim team told SwimSwam that the program also has $500,000 in pledges from an undisclosed number of alumni — there is also a GoFundMe set up called “Protect the Program – UConn Swimming & Diving” with just over $1,000 donated.

This is part of a concerted social media effort by members of many of the school’s “Olympic” sports to petition to save their programs. This has included a number of posts trying to push the value of each academic program to the university.

According to Jason Bryant of Mat Talk, 40 NCAA Division I athletics programs have been cut so far this year, with 6 of those having already been reinstated: Alabama-Huntsville men’s ice hockey, Bowling Green State baseball, and Brown indoor track & field, outdoor track & field, and cross country.

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dj albertson
4 months ago

Very sad!

B1G Daddy
4 months ago

When Eastern Michigan Athletic Director Scott Wetherbee destroyed the men’s swimming program and the sense of connection that hundreds of alumni had to their University, he “at least” had the decency to do it in Mid-March of 2018. Mitchell Whyte was able to shift his plans to Louisville, Carter Swift to Arizona State, Ben Brooks & Jake Lowe to West Virginia and so on. Cutting a program is one horrible thing. To consider doing it to these kids in late-June is absolutely reprehensible. If the financial outlook is so bleak, they needed to have the expertise to move quickly. To allow these UConn swimmers, who WILL win the Big East next year if given the opportunity, to swing in the… Read more »

Wethorn
Reply to  B1G Daddy
4 months ago

Clearly you follow and love the program, and I’m sad that this situation is before us. But I don’t think it’s fair to blame the administration for considering actions to save money in June rather than in March. No one really knew what COVID was going to do in March. Schools are figuring this out as they go. Hopefully swimming at UConn can be saved. If not, I hope the AD at UConn does whatever it can to support its athletes, whether that’s at UConn or helping them find homes elsewhere.

B1G Daddy
Reply to  Wethorn
4 months ago

Respect the opinion, I just disagree. Frankly, there was uncertainty as to whether there would be a team in 2019-20 due to these pre-existing financial realities. This didn’t arise this summer, they’ve known these realities for years. Enough so that UConn’s athletic department floated a trial balloon over a month ago in the Hartford Courant to lay the ground work for all of this and gauge public response. They’ve known.

Anonymous
4 months ago

Would it be helpful if some of these schools actually allowed clubs to practice and/or host meets in their pools? I know UConn used to, but have heard it’s becoming harder and harder to access the facility. I saw the same thing with Boston University, Georgia Tech, MIT and even Harvard. There are a few meets there, but have heard they are running the teams out due to the cost to use the facilities. Just wondering if it might garner some community support.

Admin
Reply to  Anonymous
4 months ago

It might. The problem is that these pools also have to cater to the general student bodies. Cutting the swim team doesn’t mean closing the pool. In fact, cutting the swim team might open up more time for local clubs to use the pools.

Bob
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 months ago

How about we stop going after UCONN swim and just wait until the decision is made. What about that football team that hasn’t had a winning season in 8 years

swimapologist
Reply to  Bob
4 months ago

Yikes. “Going after.” If y’all wanna survive this you’re going to have to get a lot tougher if you think this is “going after.”

Swim3057
Reply to  Bob
4 months ago

Decision has been made…. men’s team being told today ahead of tomorrow’s announcement that their program has been cut. So far women’s team safe.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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