U of M might cut three sports

Men's, women's golf, and men's gymnastics may be eliminated if ath. depts. merge

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- The University of Minnesota might eliminate three sports and merge the men's and women's athletics departments to curb spiraling costs, according to a published report.

School officials have proposed the elimination of men's gymnastics and men's and women's golf, the Star Tribune reported, citing two unnamed sources close to the discussions.

President Mark Yudof told the newspaper Thursday that "it is very likely that some sports will be eliminated," although a plan has not been finalized.


"I don't see how we can balance the budget long-term without it," he said.

Yudof said he was evaluating specific proposals and their impact on personnel, gender-equity requirements and finances. A final plan will not be released until Tuesday or Wednesday, he said.

The Board of Regents plans to vote next Friday on whether to support the reorganization plan. Regents do not have to vote on the plan because it is considered an administrative change, but they were expected to because the issue is so emotional.

This week, officials focused on a plan that combined administrative cutbacks and cuts in sports that brought in less than $35,000 in revenue last year. Men's and women's golf and men's gymnastics together cost more than $934,000.

Under the plan, men's and women's athletics would be merged. The contracts of Men's Athletic Director Tom Moe and Women's Athletic Director Chris Voelz expire June 30.

Tonya Moten Brown, the university vice president who oversees athletics, declined to talk about specifics but said "there could be some leadership changes."

Yudof on Thursday would not say whether he will recommend a merger of the departments. In the past three weeks, however, he and Brown have endorsed a merged department, saying it would be good not only for finances but to end infighting and to give athletics a unified mission.

"I stand by the statements I already made," Yudof said.


Savings from a merger are estimated at $1.1 million to $1.4 million annually.

Financial projections released in March forecast that, as currently structured, intercollegiate athletics will need $74.7 million in subsidies from central administration over the next five years. Athletics already receive administrative support of more than $10 million a year.

The three programs eyed for elimination have a history of success.

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