COVID forces many colleges to cut athletic programs


Grace Copeland

Playing their sports, Millbrook alumni represent the Wildcats. Track, diving, gymnastics, and tennis were four common sports that were cut from many colleges because of the pandemic.

Michaela Teachey, Staff Reporter

 The coronavirus pandemic has forced many colleges to cut their athletic programs. Because of the outbreak in mid-March, many colleges were forced to suspend athletics, leading to a significant decrease in revenue. Revenue was lost from student fees, donations, and schools did not receive their usual distribution from the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. These unfortunate events caused many colleges to respond to the deficit by making the difficult decision to cut athletic programs.

  More than eighty Division I programs in the US have been eliminated, which has affected about 1,500 athletes. Stanford University eliminated an immense number of programs, cutting eleven teams due to the pandemic. Affected athletes have been forced to either transfer schools or give up their sport, requiring them scrambling to adjust. Many coaches have lost their jobs and have been forced to move. The most common programs cut during the pandemic were Olympic sports, such as tennis, swimming, diving, and track and field. The reason why these sports were ultimately cut was because they did not bring in much revenue in comparison to sports like football or basketball. Many of these programs were cut after extremely successful seasons. East Carolina men’s swimming was cut just a few months after winning their conference in February, as well as Furman’s baseball program which was established one hundred and twenty-five years ago.

 In response to their elimination, many teams pushed back by creating petitions and raising money to bring back their programs. East Carolina swimming and diving has raised over $715,000 since their program was cut but has yet to be reinstated. Countless schools have done the same thing, without any response as to if, or when, their program will be reinstated. Athletes from other schools, such as William and Mary, threatened to sue the colleges because of their non-compliance with Title IX. This law protects college athletes from discrimination in sports based on sex.  The legal team representing the female student-athletes at William and Mary recently announced that the school agreed to reinstate its women’s swimming, volleyball, and gymnastics teams, create a gender equity plan, and fully comply with Title IX guidelines by the 2022-23 academic year to avoid being sued. They also have raised a great amount of money, but it seems as though legal battles will be the only way to get these athletic programs reinstated.

  The elimination of these programs was obviously a financial decision for these schools, but it has had a vast impact on a countless number of athletes. Junior Millbrook swimmer Olivia Boulware, who plans to continue her sport in college, commented on these programs being cut: “Swimming being cut from so many schools has given me fewer options in the recruiting process and made it much more difficult for me. It also scares me how I could go through all of this and work so hard just to have my program cut in a few years.” This is the sad reality for many athletes who participate in Olympic sports. There is only so much we can do at this time, but donating and learning about these programs is a great option to help in this cause.