After being told in 2018 to cut his athletic department’s spending by $1 million, University of Idaho President Chuck Staben came up with a solution he thought would allow him to avoid cutting sports.
While women’s swimming, women’s soccer and men’s golf were likely on the chopping block, Staben wanted to propose adding equivalency sports where non-scholarship athletes’ tuition would make the sports profitable for the school, according to a report from Sportico’s Eben Novy-Williams.
“Instead of cutting sports to save money, Staben argued that Idaho should add them,” Novy-Williams reported.
Staben put together a 22-slide presentation that explained that cutting those sports would take $1 million off the athletics budgets, it would actually cost the school $1.6 million in lost tuition. But by Staben’s calculations, adding men’s swimming and women’s triathlon and rifle would result in a $$843,000 profit for the school.
The board wouldn’t hear the idea, Novy-Williams reported. “And the board said, ‘No, we don’t want to see that,’” Staben said. “They wouldn’t let me present it.”
In the end, Idaho was granted a waiver giving it an additional year to find a way to reduce its budget — so sport cuts could still be coming down the line.
Idaho’s failed attempt to add swimming is particularly intriguing in light of Boise State’s announcement Thursday that it is eliminating its women’s swimming and diving program as part of a cost-cutting effort.
The school is cutting both the swimming & dive program and the baseball program – those changes, combined with other cost-saving measures, are expected to reduce the overall departmental budget by $3 million, the school said.
Boise’s announcement came a day after UMass Dartmouth eliminated its men’s and women’s swimming & diving programs.
Other schools that have cut swimming & diving programs this summer:
- UConn – men
- East Carolina – men and women
- Tiffin – men and women
- Urbana – men and women (whole campus closed)
- Western Illinois – men and women (“suspended indefinitely”)