Budget casualty: Rutgers forced to cut six sports

Updated: July 14, 2006, 7:58 PM ET
Associated Press

Rutgers will eliminate six intercollegiate sports at the end of the 2006-07 school year as part of university-wide cost-cutting resulting from a projected $80.4 million budget shortfall, the university said Friday.

Five of the six sports to be phased out are men's programs: heavyweight crew, lightweight crew, fencing, swimming and diving, and tennis. Women's fencing also will be eliminated.

"This action was an extremely difficult and painful one to make," athletic director Robert E. Mulcahy said. "Any time you're put in a position of denying opportunities for students, it's a heartbreaking situation. Every student-athlete in our program is a valuable member of our athletic and university community."

Mulcahy said that eliminating the six sports will save $2 million from the athletic department's budget, which was $35.5 million this past year.

There are 153 athletes in the six affected programs, including 23 who are receiving some sort of financial aid, said John Wooding, assistant athletic director for athletic communications.

The university said all scholarship commitments will be honored. The six sports are expected to be offered as part of the university's club sports program.

While it considered eliminating the six sports immediately, Mulcahy said doing that would have been unfair to the student-athletes.

Rutgers' Board of Governors approved a university budget Friday that included $52.4 million in spending cuts to programs, staff and services that will affect virtually all academic and administrative operations. The recently adopted state budget significantly reduced funding for higher education and left the school with an unprecedented shortfall of $80.4 million.

The loss of six sports will leave Rutgers with 24 varsity sports, which ties it with Connecticut for the most of any program that competes in Division I-A football in the Big East Conference. There will be 14 intercollegiate sports for women and 10 for men.

The sports for men are football, basketball, baseball, soccer, cross country, lacrosse, golf, wrestling and two track and field programs, indoor and outdoor.

The women's sports are basketball, soccer, field hockey, swimming and diving, cross country, softball, lacrosse, crew, volleyball, golf, tennis, gymnastics and the two track and fields.

Mulcahy said that Rutgers' commitment to follow Title IX guidelines forced it to eliminate more men's programs. The current female-to-male ratio at the university is 51 to 49 percent, Mulcahy said, adding that the opportunities for women in sports must be within 2 percent of that ratio to comply with Title IX.

"That means almost all the cuts have to be in men's programs," Mulcahy said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press