Maryland Cuts Eight Athletic Teams Citing Financial Limitations

The University of Maryland, which has one of the smallest operating profits from football among major public universities, plans to cut eight sports to save money, school President Wallace D. Loh said.

Men’s cross country; tennis; swimming and diving; indoor track, and outdoor track are to be eliminated, as well as women’s water polo; acrobatics and tumbling, and swimming and diving. The sports will be discontinued on June 30, 2012, Loh said in a letter yesterday on the university’s website.

Loh said the teams would be given the chance to raise enough money by that 2012 deadline to fund themselves for eight years. A similar offer in 2010 at the University of California, Berkeley, led to five threatened sports being saved.

Maryland made $1.8 million in football revenue during the 2010 fiscal year, ranking 49th of the 53 public schools in college football’s six biggest conferences, according to research compiled by Bloomberg News. Football and men’s basketball are the only two revenue-producing sports at the school and they help subsidize other athletic teams at the university, according to Loh.

“We are different from many other public research universities in that we receive no state support,” Loh said yesterday in a news conference. “We have a financial model for two programs, only two programs, which have to subsidize all the rest of the sports. It is a national model that is faulty, that is inequitable, and that is unsustainable”

All Scholarships Honored

All scholarships and coaches’ contracts at Maryland will be honored, Loh said. The cuts would affect roughly 90 athletes and their coaching staffs, according to a separate report Loh posted on the website.

Loh did not say how much money would be saved by cutting the five men’s and three women’s sports.

The school’s Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics recommended last week that the sports be cut, a move endorsed by Athletic Director Kevin Anderson and the University Athletic Council, Loh said.

“The commission’s recommendations -- reluctantly reached in a time of constrained resources -- will restore Maryland athletics to financial health and sustainability by 2019 and will enhance the support for student-athletes in the remaining 19 teams so that they can excel in the classroom and on the field,” Loh wrote.

Loh said his office received e-mailed petitions from more than 10,000 people to save various teams after the commission’s recommendation was announced.

Fundraising Program

“It was heart wrenching to go team to team and look these young people in the eye and tell them that there was a possibility of discontinuing their program,” Anderson said yesterday in a news conference. “We are in the planning stages now of putting together a fundraising program to help save all these teams.”

In September 2010, Berkeley announced that it lacked the money to support five teams. All five of those teams -- rugby, baseball, men’s gymnastics, women’s gymnastics and women’s lacrosse -- were preserved thanks to more than $22 million in donations from alumni, former players and supporters.

In the 2010 fiscal year, Maryland’s football team had an operating expense of $9.9 million, the second lowest of the 53 public schools in the six Bowl Championship Series conferences, and revenue of $11.6 million. The University of Texas’ football program had the highest operating profit at $70.1 million; Rutgers University the lowest with a $2.9 million operating loss.

The College Park, Maryland-based university has about 26,000 undergraduate students.

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