St. Cloud State University announced today that it is reducing the number of its intercollegiate athletics programs by six – from 23 to 17 – effective at the end of the 2015-16 academic year. According to the school’s website, the decision to eliminate programs “better aligns St. Cloud State’s sport portfolio with the athletics department’s mission and vision while addressing budget shortfalls.”
The university will eliminate men’s and women’s tennis, women’s Nordic Skiing, men’s cross country and men’s indoor/outdoor track and field, according to athletics director, Heather Weems, who made the announcement at a departmental meeting this morning. In addition to the program reductions, an extensive roster management program will be implemented to achieve Title IX compliance.
In the department meeting this morning, St. Cloud State President Earl H. Potter III said the athletics changes are part of a campus-wide process in which all units are conducting comprehensive reviews of their programs to best meet the reductions required by the University’s financial recovery plan.
Among the criteria considered as part of the athletics review process were the history and tradition of the programs, facilities availability and conditions, recent competitive success, investment needs, alumni engagement and financial support, regional participation/interest, and Title IX compliance.
“This has been a very difficult process and decision,” explained Weems. “This decision impacts the lives of our students and coaches, and their connection with our community. That said, athletics expenses continue to increase across all sports each year, and we are not able to meet the financial and support expectations of our programs. These reductions will focus our long-term investments into the remaining programs to provide a stronger and more sustainable experience to our student-athletes as part of the university cost-containment requirement.”
The roster management plan requires modest increases in many of our women’s programs while requiring roster reductions in four of our men’s programs (baseball, football, swimming & diving, and wrestling). In addition, athletics financial aid will be re-allocated across select sports and an administrative re-organization is planned.
In total, approximately 80 student-athletes will be impacted. The university will honor current athletics financial aid agreements for up to a total of four years for those who wish to continue at St. Cloud State. The university has granted written permission for coaches from other institutions to contact student-athletes about transfer opportunities. St. Cloud State will support transferring students in credit and eligibility review if they choose to compete at another institution.
The decision is being announced now to provide student-athletes with as much time as possible to consider their options and determine next steps.
“St. Cloud State is committed to the role of intercollegiate athletics in the life of our institution,” said President Potter. “The actions we take today are a step forward in ensuring the experience we seek for our student-athletes can be achieved consistent with our vision.”
In all, estimated departmental cost savings will be $250,000, or about five percent of the athletics general fund allocation.