The University of Akron announced today it will be discontinuing men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis. The move is an effort to reduce the University’s financial support to athletics by approximately 23 percent. Elimination of these sports, along with salary reductions for select coaches, the elimination of certain staff positions, scholarship and operating expenditure reductions will total approximately $4.4 million.
Akron will now sponsor 17 sports, one more than the NCAA required minimum of 16 for FBS institutions. The cuts impact 23 male, 9 female student athletes, three coaches and one graduate assistant. Five of the student athletes impacted are currently seniors who will have exhausted their eligibility during the 2019-20 academic year, and two were unable to complete their senior year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those student athletes may choose to compete at another institution next season.
Akron says it is unfortunately unable to continue to provide athletics scholarships to the current student athletes in the sports of men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis going forward. However, the University is required to provide the agreed upon scholarship to the incoming student athletes that had previously signed an offer for the upcoming year should to attend Akron.
Many factors played into Akron’s decision, including program cost, athletics facilities, University and community impacts, and likelihood of noteworthy success at the current and future funding levels.
Below is financial data from the reports Akron filed with the NCAA for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
*Note, the NCAA combines indoor and outdoor track and field with cross country, so it’s unknown what portion of the figures are attributable solely to cross country.
Although track and field/x-country had modest revenue from ticket sales ($4,040 in FY18 and $3,310 in FY19), neither men’s golf nor women’s tennis had any ticket revenue, which isn’t uncommon throughout Division I.
All three sports received contributions in FY19: track and field/x-country ($19,652), men’s golf ($5,730) and women’s tennis ($51,625). They also all three had small amounts of in-kind gifts counted towards their revenue. Track and field/x-country had $12,910 in sports camp revenue in FY19. Men’s golf had $13,959 in restricted endowment/investment revenue in FY18, while track and field/x-country had $7,149. The rest of the revenue was reported as “other” that did not fit in any of the given categories on the report.
Taking a look at expenses in FY19, here are a few of the largest expense categories.
Athletic student aid:
- Track and field/x-country: $335,223
- Golf: $143,572
- Tennis: $287,768
- Track and field/x-country: $114,992
- Golf: $78,329
- Tennis: $97,485
- Track and field/x-country: $137,299
- Golf: $43,987
- Tennis: $46,537
Equipment, uniforms and supplies:
- Track and field/x-country: $59,821
- Golf: $31,502
- Tennis: $53,574
Akron reported $26 million in direct institutional support in FY19 but $0 in student fees. Direct institutional support can include state funds, tuition discounts/waivers, federal work study support for student workers employed by athletics, and endowment income
“These decisions are very difficult but they are important and necessary at this time,” said Director of Athletics Larry Williams. “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.”
Williams continued, “This morning, I met via video conference with the student-athletes affected by the decision. We understand that some may choose to leave Akron to continue in their sport at another university, and we have committed to offering them our full support throughout that process. This is a difficult day for all of us. 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.”
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