Maryland has officially discontinued seven of its teams as it seeks to offset the athletic department’s multimillion-dollar deficit, Athletic Director Kevin Anderson announced Monday morning.
Men’s and women’s swimming; men’s tennis; women’s water polo; acrobatics and tumbling (formerly known as competitive cheer); and two of the school’s men’s track programs (cross-country and indoor track and field) were eliminated. Those programs were unable to show enough progress toward raising eight years’ worth of total costs by June 30.
The announcement comes after Maryland President Wallace D. Loh accepted the recommendation of a 17-member panel last November that called for the school to eliminate eight athletic programs to offset a deficit that is projected to reach more than $4 million this fiscal year and could top $17 million by 2017.
One program that faced the chopping block – men’s outdoor track and field – has been saved for the time being after a successful fundraising campaign. The program still must raise $3.76 million by Dec. 31, 2013 to ensure its permanent survival.
The Maryland swimming and diving teams needed to come up with $2.8 million by Saturday. As of June 11, they had raised only $306,602.
“We understand the pain and disappointment this has caused our student-athletes and their families,” Anderson said in a school-issued statement. “The deliberations of the President’s Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics were painstaking.”
“No one wanted to come to this conclusion, but our fund-raising efforts in these other sports have not been successful. I personally want to thank everyone for their efforts. Our student-athletes competed this season with pride and excellence in a difficult situation.”
The decision to eliminate seven sports affects 131 student-athletes. In addition, the men’s outdoor track and field program will compete with 14 student-athletes in 2012-13. The team had 27 members this past season. Maryland has previously announced that it will continue to honor the scholarships for all varsity athletes and the contracts for coaches, regardless of whether their sport was discontinued.
“The decision to reduce the number of varsity sports was a difficult and painful one, but I believe our athletics department will continue its excellent work in preparing our student-athletes for success on and off the field,” Loh said in the statement.
The men’s outdoor track and field program still must reach other financial benchmarks, such as establishing a full endowment by 2020. But fundraising efforts by supporters, alumni, parents and Maryland athletics staff have given the program a chance to move forward.
Maryland men’s track and field Coach Andrew Valmon will focus on plans to continue the program once he returns from the 2012 London Olympics, where he will be the head U.S. men’s track coach.
“We have a number of rising seniors on the team and giving them the chance to finish their collegiate careers at Maryland is important to all of us in the program,” Valmon said in the school-issued statement. “We have much work to be done in the near future, but this gives us a continued chance to be successful.”
Added Anderson: “The support and effort put toward saving these sports has been noteworthy. Much work needs to be done, but we’re fortunate that we now have a chance to preserve the long legacy of success that men’s track and field has enjoyed at Maryland.”