University of Maryland President Wallace Loh announced today that he was accepting the recommendations of the President's Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and cutting eight teams from Maryland's athletic department.
"It is with regret that I announce my decision to accept the recommendations of the President's Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, delivered a week ago, that eight athletic teams be discontinued as of June 30, 2012. Of course, all scholarship commitments and coaches' contracts will be honored."
There was one small hope offered by Loh to save those programs, but it sounds like it would be a long shot.
Per Patrick Stevens on Twitter, quoting Loh:
"Director Anderson also recommended that supporters of any discontinued teams "be given the opportunity to raise 8 years’ worth of total program costs by June 30, 2012"
So it appears those sports being cut will be given the opportunity to continue, if they can gather enough support. However, there is a catch. They have to gather enough funding not just for one additional year of funding, but for eight years. How much would that cost? I again go back to the math/statistics wiz that is
Patrick Stevens. Again, via twitter:
So eight years of funding the swimmings is a little more than $11.5M. Men's track and tumbling: $9.46M. Men's tennis and water polo: $8M
Is that achievable? Read more after the jump.
That's a lot of money. I'm glad they're being given the opportunity though. It's actually a very, very strategic move by Maryland. Giving to the Athletic Department has been down and was on a downward trend as Yow was leaving. If you hold donors feet to the fire, normally people will respond. If you remember, last year a portion of the National Arboretum in D.C. was on the verge of being shut down. The National Park Service announced plans to close that portion of the park and within a week, they had the funding to keep it going. I'd love to see that outpouring of support for these sportsl. I'd also like to see some sort of endowment established to help prevent problems like this from happening again, with the condition that you couldn't "Yow" that money down to nothing.
There has already been talk that the M Club has gotten this campaign going and tossed in a million dollars. Former track start Dontae Bugg is also trying to gather support. It will be interesting to see who else steps up to the plate here. I assume they'll have until the new fiscal year starts, which means each program has until June 30th, 2012.
Without outside support, the unfortunate truth for Maryland is that supporting 27 teams was just unsustainable with an athletic program such as Maryland's. If you look across Division 1 athletics, not many schools have as many teams as the University of Maryland. The schools that do support that many programs normally have a rather historically and successful football program to provide the funding, such as the University of Michigan. When you're selling out a stadium that holds close to 110,000, you can afford supporting those programs, even in down times. Maryland, who's struggled recently selling out a 54,000 seat stadium and is working to pay off a recent expansion of said stadium, doesn't have that luxury.
I'm hopeful that something can be done. I'd be happy to direct people to any efforts being led to help save any of these programs. But as I said, that's a lot of money to come up with. We'll have to monitor how this plays out over the next 7.5 months, but unfortunately I think in the end Maryland is going to have less than 27 teams as of July 1, 2012.