St. Cloud State eliminates six athletics programs, cites budget reductions and vision

SCSU Athletics

St. Cloud State University announced today that they would be eliminating six of their 23 athletics programs, effective at the end of the academic year.

The decision was made in response to the university’s Financial Recovery Plan, which addresses budget shortfalls. The St. Cloud State athletics department is anticipating a deficit of $500,000 this fiscal year. The decision also was factored in the quality of the programs and their ability to compete at the regional and national level.

The programs cut were men and women’s tennis, women’s nordic skiing, men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, and men’s cross country. In total, there will be 80 student athletes affected by these cuts. The university will honor their financial aid agreements for up to a total of four years for those who wish to remain enrolled at SCSU.

In addition, if student athletes want to transfer, the university has granted coaches from other institutions to contact them regarding transfer opportunities.

By NCAA bylaw, the student athletes are also granted immediate relief from transfer residency requirements due to the programs being eliminated. St. Cloud State will also continue to meet membership obligations with the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC), where SCSU athletics programs are apart of.

Per the National Letter of Intent, prospective student athletes are also nullified of any scholarships if the program is discontinued.

“This has been a very difficult process and decision,” stated St. Cloud State athletics director Heather Weems, addressing the cuts Wednesday morning at a press conference at the Husky Den.

St. Cloud State president Earl Potter also attended the press conference, stating, “This is the job we need to do right now.” Potter also mentioned that, with the decline in state funding for higher education institutions, the reductions were necessary for financial sustainability.

The university also announced some roster management, reducing the size of four men’s sports and increasing the size of many of the women’s sports.

The four men’s programs affected by the roster change are men’s baseball, football, swimming and diving, and wrestling. Each of the teams will see a reduction of roughly 25 percent, including 27 percent for the reigning Division II national champion wrestling team. The expected male student athlete count will drop from 374 to 250, a 33 percent decrease.

Various sports rosters will increase as a result of the changes. These sports are women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s hockey, and women’s indoor and outdoor track. Overall, the number of female student athletes will see a 3 percent increase from 246 to 256 total.

Additionally, eliminated programs will not be able to fundraise funds to remain a program. The university addressed the question by stating in a press release, “The decision to eliminate programs was based on a holistic review of our programs and the need to right-size our sports portfolio to better align with our mission and vision and achieve greater competitive success. While sustainable budgets were certainly a part of the review, it is not the only factor. Thus, fundraising initiatives to restore a program will not be supported.”

The cuts will save the athletics department an estimated $250,000, which accounts to roughly 5 percent of the general funding.

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