The University of Akron announced austerity moves to their athletics department today, which will significantly alter the program’s future offerings after academic year 2019-20.
Starting next year, the university will no longer sponsor men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis, reducing Akron’s number of sponsored programs from 20 to 17.
The move, along with a handful of other cost-cutting measures (including salary reductions and position eliminations) is expected to save the university $4.4 million (approximately 23 percent of its athletic budget) moving forward.
“These decisions are very difficult but they are important and necessary at this time,” said Akron athletic director Larry Williams in a statement released Thursday morning. “This action aligns us with our Mid-American Conference peers in the total number of sports and is part of the ongoing effort to redesign the University to ensure that UA continues to invest in high-demand, high-quality academic programs.”
The action will affect 32 student-athletes and their scholarships. Williams said in the statement the university will give “full support” in helping affected athletes and coaches find new positions, as scholarships are part of the expected future cuts.
The university has been facing well-documented financial difficulties for the close part of a decade, an issue which has only been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic in recent months. In fact, today’s announced changes went beyond the recommendation of 20 percent that Akron president Gary L. Miller set back in April.
“This is a difficult day for all of us,” Williams said. “We have dedicated student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff who have embraced being a Zip and make tremendous contributions to campus life in class, in competition and in our greater community.”
The moves will reduce the athletic budget from around $19.1 million to around $14.7 million in direct university funding.