UConn Answers FAQs After Cutting 4 Sports Programs, Including Men’s Swim & Dive

In light of its plan to eliminate four sports programs following the 2020-21 school year – men’s swimming & diving, cross country and tennis, as well as women’s rowing – the University of Connecticut posted answers to some frequently asked questions about the decision, which is part of a larger effort to cut $10 million annually from the athletics budget.

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most pertinent questions as they relate to SwimSwam’s coverage of the cuts, as well as reader inquiries. In the questions, the school addresses why it did not just cut football, what criteria were used to make the cuts, and if the teams could be reinstated in the future.

Q:  How much private fundraising would allow you to keep some or all these programs?
A:  Private fundraising is not a sustainable solution. Even with a reduced number of programs for our student-athletes, fundraising will still need to be a major revenue source for those remaining programs.

SwimSwam context: A representative from the swim team told SwimSwam that the team was able to secure $500,000 in pledges, as of last week. A GoFundMe page for the team has $2,330 as of publishing. Men’s track & field and golf, which had their scholarships reduced, also raised money. The track program had raised more than $1.6 million as of last week, according to the Hartford Courant, and golf has around $270,000 for next year and nearly $900,000 across the next five years.

Q:  Did the fundraising efforts of various teams over the last several weeks help save additional programs from elimination?
A: Today’s action was unaffected by recent fundraising efforts.  While the generosity of alums and supporters is greatly appreciated and welcome, today’s action was meant to ensure the future success of UConn athletics.  Philanthropy from alumni and supporters has always been critical to achieving our goal of long-term fiscal sustainability

Q:  What other Athletics Department cuts or changes are being made to meet the directives set by the University?
A: We believe the plan we have moving forward will achieve the necessary annual reductions.  In addition to the elimination of four sports, savings will be captured by additional scholarship reductions in the men’s golf and men’s track & field teams, administrative and sport operational expense reductions, fewer summer school opportunities for student-athletes, a more regionalized approach to non-conference scheduling and a reduced tuition rate charged to athletics by the university.

Athletics will continue to work to identify strategies to support fiscal sustainability.

Q:  Have Senior Administrative staff or coaches Edsall, Auriemma or Hurley been asked to take a pay cut as part of this effort?
A: Director of athletics David Benedict has taken a voluntary 15 percent pay reduction and will not take any cash bonuses.  Coaches Auriemma, Edsall, and Hurley are represented by the AAUP and consequently are covered by their collective bargaining agreement.

SwimSwam context: Benedict’s contract, which runs through 2021, was restructured in 2017 to give him a base salary of $550,000 with a potential for up to $50,000 in bonus pay. 

Q: What criteria was used to choose sport programs that were discontinued?
A: Elements in our decision making included operational cost of programs, existing and traditional strengths of each program, the quality of facilities available for practice and competition and Title IX compliance considerations.

Q:  How does this affect Title IX compliance?
A:  We continually strive to maintain equitable experiences for our male and female student-athletes, and it enters into every decision we make as an athletic department. This process was no different and we are confident that these changes will improve our ability to do so over the long term.

Q:  Why wasn’t football cut or moved to FCS level?
A: The savings from such a move would be outweighed by a significant decline in revenue opportunities. The newly-signed agreement with CBS Sports Network, would be nullified by a reclassification to FCS.  Similarly, our multi-media marketing rights deal with Learfield/IMG College and our all-sport equipment deal with Nike would suffer greatly or not exist if we dropped to the FCS level. Currently, revenue from these two agreements is nearly $3.7 million annually.

Additionally, UConn would forfeit the ability to maximize revenue generation by securing premium guarantee games and would no longer have the ability to secure quality opponents such as Purdue, Syracuse, North Carolina, Maryland and Boston College in home-and-home series.

UConn football has a proud history and has proven to be a rallying point for alumni and fans in support of the state’s flagship institution. Dropping the program to the FCS level may diminish overall interest from our constituents, inhibit its potential to be a rallying force, and hinder its ability to drive revenue.

SwimSwam context: While UConn football might near $4 million in revenue, it spent $16.6 million in 2019. Conversely, men’s basketball generated $6 million in revenue and had $9.9 million worth of expenses, and women’s basketball generated $4.5 million and had $8 million in expenses. All other sports combined for $2.8 million in revenue and $25.8 million in expenses. 

Q:  Will you revisit this issue, whether to reinstate or discontinue more programs, in the future?

A: The decision to reduce sports was done with the long-term viability of UConn athletics in mind.  However, today’s action does not necessarily preclude us from making future changes.

Q: Why was the decision to reduce sports after the 2020-21 season, rather than immediately, made?
A: There is never a good time to communicate this decision but throughout his process, we wanted to ensure the best possible outcome for our student-athletes.  By making this decision as late as we did and considering the environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we felt continuing to sponsor these four sports through the 2020-21 was the most compassionate way to approach this difficult decision.  This outcome creates options for our student-athletes and the time required to make well-informed decisions.  The university directive to reduce our support by 25 percent is still achievable and delaying the reduction in sponsorship allows for the appropriate amount of time for our student-athletes to make the best decision for themselves.

Q: Is the intent of the delay in sport reductions to allow teams to raise enough money to privately fund the programs
A: We feel that continuing to sponsor these four sports for the 2020-21 season is in the best interest of our student-athletes but 2020-21 will be the final year UConn sponsors these four programs.

Q: Will affected teams face a reduction in competition schedule or training?
A: The competition and training schedules of impacted teams will remain unchanged and will reflect a typical season.

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2 years ago

My initial reaction to this was to feel sorry for how dumb this administration and athletic department is. Now I’m just plain disgusted.

2 years ago

“Private fundraising is not a sustainable solution.”
And continuing wasteful spending and continuing to employ the people responsible for it is a sustainable solution? Noted.

2 years ago

I’m a UConn alum and former rower, and after this move the school will never get another dime from me. When the alumni association, athletic department, and UConn Foundation call for fundraisers, they’ll get an earful as to WHY my former willingness to donate has completely evaporated.

Stop trying to make UConn a football school. It’s not going to happen.

2 years ago

You switch from ‘lost’ to ‘expenses’ in the swim swam context. Would help to have an apples to apples comparison. However, it does look like dropping only football would make up the budget deficit in one fell swoop.

2 years ago

Funny how revenue is ALWAYS a consideration, often the primary consideration. Yet athletes, who generate the revenue, cannot be paid. The NCAA is quite a racket.

2 years ago

Umm…excuse me I’m not seeing the answer to “how are you guys so bad at your jobs?”

That has to be the most frequently asked question no?

Cut AD salary, not the program
2 years ago

“UConn football has a proud history” 7 winning seasons in the last 20 years? Never winning more than 10 games in a single season? Only bowl wins coming from the Motor City Bowl, International Bowl, and the PapaJohns.com Bowl? Come on. They decided not to cut football over potential opportunities for future revenue. Their two agreements still leaves them losing almost 3x as much revenue as their football program brings in. By cutting these programs they are losing more revenue from tuition than they were spending on scholarships. If a men’s program has 9.8 scholarships and 30 men on the roster, they are bringing in money for the school! Not to mention alum’s of these teams will probably cease to… Read more »

Reply to  Cut AD salary, not the program
2 years ago

Yeah a proud history of being an absolutely trash football team.

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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