UConn Huskies eliminate four teams to reduce sports to 18

STORRS, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut on Wednesday decided to eliminate four athletic teams as it deals with an expected budget deficit driven by issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.

UConn president Thomas Katsouleas told the school's board of trustees that the school will reduce the number of sports it supports from 22 to 18, eliminating its men's cross country, men's swimming and diving, men's tennis and women's rowing teams.

He said eliminating those programs, along with mandating a 15% cut in the operating budget of all sports and cutting some scholarships, should result in a requested savings of $10 million, or 25% of the school's subsidy to the division of athletics over the next three years. That subsidy was $42 million in 2019.

The school will continue to support the eliminated sports through the 2020-21 academic year, allowing athletes time to transfer or make other decisions, officials said.

"While this is a painful decision, it is in the best interests of the long-term viability of UConn and of UConn athletics,'' Katsouleas said. The board spent almost an hour and a half hearing from former athletes who asked to save their sports.

Track and field alumni have pledged more than $1.6 million for that program. Men's golf alumni had said they could contribute $900,000 over the next five years.

Rowing coach Jennifer Sanford told the board she was not informed of the decision to eliminate her sport until Tuesday afternoon, giving her very little time to rally support.

"This decision will come as a surprise to many, because very few saw it coming,'' Sanford said. "If approved, the University of Connecticut will be the only Division I rowing program in the country that has been cut.''