UMass Amherst Slashes Athletic Programs

Jason Campos

In order to help offset the effects that a 17 million dollar budget cut will have, the powers that be at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have decided to reduce the number of athletic varsity programs from the current number of 29 to 22. The changes will reduce the costs of the university by an estimated 1.1 million dollars.

The sports that were given the axe were women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, men’s tennis, men’s and women’s water polo, and men’s indoor track and field. A total of 136 athletes and 10 coaches and assistants will be without a sport or a job, respectively at the end of the academic year.

This announcement comes nearly two months after the university announced 95 layoffs in the university support units. Some 350 employees are expected to take an early retirement package, which will also contribute to more university savings.

Athletic Director Robert Marcum regrets the moves that the university had to take, but, as reported in Tuesday’s Boston Globe, “fiscal realities” made the move inevitable.

Although UMass will still have more athletic programs than the national average for major public institutions, the lack of a high revenue producing sport strains the overall budget of the athletic department now and might have effects on the department in the future.

The student athletes that will be affected by the eliminations of their sports will receive an extension of aid through the 2002-03 academic year. During that time, the university will also assist any athlete that wishes to transfer to another institution.

The elimination of the seven athletic programs will not come into conflict with Title IX, the 1970s legislative ruling that bars the imbalance of funds or discrimination between male and female athletic teams at public universities.