Editor's note: This story has been updated with information about the sports that will be eliminated.
The University of Akron has announced that three athletics teams will be cut due to budgetary constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to UA community members, Athletic Director Larry Williams says men's golf, women's tennis and men's cross country teams are being eliminated. Williams said the cuts will save the university $4.4 million.
The University’s faculty union president Pam Schulze this week questioned spending priorities that show increased support for athletics but declining support for instruction and research.
“Students have to have an expectation that their tuition and fees are principally going to their education," Schulze, a professor of child and family development, said.
University President Gary Miller says being a Division I school helps Akron attract students and 56% of the 515 student athletes are not on scholarship. He says less than 6% of the school’s overall budget goes toward sports.
“We agree with the union that we spend too much money on it," Miller said. "So that’s why Thursday we’re going to announce some fairly substantial cuts in athletics for next year.”
Miller says that will mean the elimination of some sports. But he says they are committed to remaining a Division I school.
“You don’t lose costs when you move to other divisions. You still have to pay for coaches, still have to pay for facilities, you still have to travel students. We believe that the best course of action is to work with our Division I partners in Ohio and the region to develop a better Division I model.”
Miller also says there’s a $4 million exit fee to leave the Mid American Conference. He says constructive conversations are going on among MAC schools to develop what he calls a more rational mid-major DI program.