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Colleges Still Cutting Sports Programs Years After Pandemic


the home gym of St. Francis College Men’s Basketball team (SFC Brooklyn Athletics)

On March 21, Saint Francis College in Brooklyn made the executive decision to cut its athletic program entirely.

Although foreshadowed by the sale of its gym and pool, the news is still shocking to students, faculty, and alumni alike, leaving coaches, trainers, and student-athletes scrambling to find a new home for next semester.

Nineteen teams will be cut in total, including SFC’s men’s basketball team, which is the oldest NCAA basketball team in New York and had been around since 1896.

With the absence of a SFC sports program, we have seen the last of the long-running Battle of Brooklyn. The rivalry between the SFC Terriers and the then-LIU Blackbirds started in 1976, where the first game was played at the Brooklyn Paramount theater. Students and fans of the two colleges have looked forward to the bi-annual meetings, and it is seen as the only major rivalry in the NEC.

Before the pandemic, news of colleges cutting sports programs were few and far between, but after the spread of COVID-19, it seems to be a regular occurrence. However, three years after the lockdown, the fact that entire athletic programs are being cut, such as SFC, has athletes and coaches asking if their school is next.

Just before the start of the fall semester of 2022, Georgetown college opted to cut five sports teams amid financial concerns. This is a private school that only spent $60,000 total on those teams combined, which is about the yearly tuition of a single student.

According to the National Women’s Law Center who has done extensive research on Title IX, if men’s sports are being cut, it is because of the inflated spending on football and men’s basketball. Only 18 of 229 division one schools generated more money than they spent in 2020 and most of those schools only profited because of massive donations from boosters like Nike founder Phil Knight, who has donated close to one billion dollars in total to the University of Oregon.

The question remains, is it right for only a few teams at a school to get the vast majority of the athletics budget at the expense of other athletes' collegiate careers? Would reallocating some of that budget to other teams crucially impact a school’s revenue that is probably already in the red?

Colleges’ favorite excuse for overspending on athletics is because it increases admissions, which is true. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate into more revenue since the number of students that they admit doesn’t change based on how many applicants they have. The only way this number can increase is if they add more infrastructure, housing, classes, etc. and make it possible to hold more students. The real reason they do this is to make the college or university seem more exclusive, which doesn’t at all solve the problem of losing money.

If colleges are able to reallocate even a small percentage of the budget to smaller teams, it would make it more enticing for more student athletes to attend that school, which would better the quality of the teams and in turn create an overall positive reputation.

It is a shame to see athletes’ collegiate careers cut short only because they picked the wrong sport, or in SFC’s case, the wrong school.

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