Professor: Colleges Using Coronavirus as Excuse to Cut Sports Programs

AP Photo/Bradley Leeb

Universities are beginning to cut sports programs as budgets continue to be devastated by the coronavirus. However, one professor thinks that those schools are using the pandemic as an excuse to cut sports programs they wanted to get rid of anyway.

B. David Ridpath, associate professor of sports business at Ohio University and interim president of the Drake Group, a national nonprofit advocacy organization, blasted the schools looking to cut sports to make up for budget holes.

“There’s a lot of fat that can be cut before sports being dropped,” Ridpath said. “I think dropping sports is basically a knee-jerk reaction, and many of the schools are using the pandemic as an excuse for something they already wanted to do. There may come a time where dropping a sport is a viable solution, but it should be the last one and based on many different things.

“Dropping a sport and saying you are doing it for gender equity, I think, is an excuse,” the professor exclaimed.

Looking a the programs that have been cut, it does appear that men’s programs have been hardest hit.

“All but three of the 15 programs that have reportedly been eliminated at Division I colleges,” the paper notes, “including Cincinnati, Old Dominion, Akron, Central Michigan, East Carolina, and Florida International are men’s sports, which are often the first to be trimmed as schools, especially those with football programs, strive to comply with Title IX, the federal law requiring gender equity for participation and scholarship opportunities.”

There are reportedly 499,217 student-athletes in the U.S. system of higher education, the more programs that are cut, the more of these students who will not be paying tuition, the paper reminds readers.

“Dropping these sports, you’re likely losing bodies, and that counts against your overall enrollment,” Ridpath noted. “Enrollment is going down nationwide, and (colleges cutting sports) are not really looking at the whole picture here.”

The cuts seen already including four sports cut at Akron, the elimination of baseball at Bowling Green, an end to the men’s indoor and outdoor track and field programs in Central Michigan, and the suspension of men’s and women’s tennis at Green Bay, the paper said.

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