With budgetary constraints threatening several Olympic sports on the college level, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is looking into various ways to help support college athletic programs.
Speaking at the National Press Club Tuesday, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun noted several methods the committee has looked into for helping financially support Olympic sports at the NCAA level, according to USA Today.
A couple ideas Blackmun suggested: sponsoring national championships for various sports and helping connect donors with college teams to fund endowments of athletic programs, coaches and scholarships.
Though Blackmun said he didn’t envision the USOC directly supporting college athletic programs financially, he did say the committee already had a donor willing to contribute $5 million to support Olympic sports if a workable system can be created.
With financial belts tightening for the vast majority of college athletic departments, Olympic sports have often become the casualty. USA Today relays some statistics Blackmun gave about college sports: Blackmun said there were just 16 men’s gymnastics programs left in the nation, and the number of wrestling programs has been cut roughly in half (from 146 to 77) from the number that existed 35 years ago.
Swimming is no stranger to this phenomenon. Earlier this month, the College of Charleston announced it would be closing its pool and cutting its men’s and women’s swimming & diving programs following this season. A few years further back were the high-profile cuts of swimming & diving at Maryland and of the men’s program at Rutgers, among others.
Blackmun pointed out that the cutting of Olympic sports at the college level could threaten American successes at future Olympics, the major reason why the USOC would like to get involved in supporting college athletics.