The University of Maryland recently eliminated seven varsity athletic programs due to a multimillion-dollar deficit in the budget for its athletic department. With revenues falling and costs rising, the athletic department’s budget shortfall is projected to reach $17 million by 2017. As a result, Kevin Anderson, Maryland’s Director of Athletics, announced on July 2nd that the university was left with no choice but to make the cuts.
Men’s and women’s swimming, men’s tennis, women’s water polo, acrobatics and tumbling, men’s cross country, and men’s indoor track and field were cut. Men’s outdoor track and field, led by Andrew Valmon (who is also the head coach of the US men’s track and field team for the London Olympics), was originally scheduled to be cut as well. But that program was saved for next season as the result of a fundraising campaign that generated close to $900,000. However, the men’s outdoor track and field team must still raise close to $2 million by the end of this year to ensure its survival for 2013-2014 and must raise close to $4 million to ensure its permanent survival.
Maryland, like many other schools in large Division I conferences, depend on the revenue from its football and men’s basketball programs to bankroll much of the athletic department’s budget. However, revenue from Maryland’s football and men’s basketball programs has recently seen a fairly sizable downturn. This downturn has been cited as a major factor behind the recent cuts in the “non-revenue” programs.
Declining revenue and rising costs are concerns that are not just limited to the University of Maryland. In fact, just 22 of 227 NCAA Division I public universities earned a profit in 2011. With the dependence on just a few sports to fund all athletics, it is possible that the loss of “non-revenue” sports may become a trend at other universities throughout the country.