• Jonathon Allen, CFP®

College sports budget cuts.

College and university campuses across the world are facing serious financial shortfalls. “Revenues are plummeting as students (particularly international ones) remain home or rethink future plans, and endowment funds implode as stock markets drop,” reported Alexandra Witze in Nature.

One way some schools are trying to balance budgets is by cutting sports programs. Kendall Baker of Axios News reported athletic directors and conference commissioners are brainstorming ways to lower spending, including reducing travel by focusing on regional play and eliminating conference championship tournaments. The sports affected may include:

  • Field hockey

  • Men's and women's soccer

  • Men's and women's tennis

  • Women's lacrosse

  • Softball

  • Baseball

During the past 12 weeks, 43 Division I teams have been eliminated from the NCAA, reported Baker. “Men's and women's tennis have been hit the hardest, as have Olympic sports like volleyball. That could affect future podiums: 88 percent of American athletes in the Rio Games had played their sport in college.”

Power 5 conferences, which include the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and Southeastern Conferences have not yet eliminated a sports team. That may change if the highly lucrative football season is cancelled due to COVID and television deals, which account for about a third of revenue, disappear.

A source cited by Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated suggested the accounting may deserve a closer look. So-called ‘non-revenue generating’ sports often generate income for colleges and universities because many athletes pay tuition:

“While trimming their own budget, athletic directors are often hurting their university’s bursar office. Sure, eliminating a men’s track team might save $1 million a year in the athletic budget, but what is it costing the academic side…A track team could be generating over $1 million to the university side.”

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