The UConn athletic department has made some significant moves over the last year. Unfortunately, the latest will leave dozens of Huskies athletes without their programs.
The University of Connecticut is the latest school to announce cuts to sports, amid budget concerns. The men’s cross country, women’s rowing, men’s swimming & diving, and men’s tennis teams are being eliminated. The decision comes after a university directive to reduce its budget by 25-percent by 2023.
"While this is a painful decision, it is in the best interest of the long-term viability of UConn and UConn athletics," said UConn President Thomas Katsouleas in the school's release about the situation. "The Division of Athletics recently completed a thorough and comprehensive review of its operation and programs, an inquiry initiated long before the COVID-19 crisis began. For several years, the level of institutional financial support committed to athletics has been growing. Today, we shared some difficult decisions that nonetheless should chart a course towards better financial sustainability at a level of support and sport sponsorship more in line with our peers."
The move will impact 124 UConn athletes, though those students will have their scholarships honored if they elect to stay at the school. The school was sure to note that it still sponsors 20 NCAA sports, which is more than the average for both the league that it is departing, the AAC, and the one it is joining, the Big East. It also says that the decision was not made due to the ongoing public health crisis.
"This was a very difficult, but necessary, decision," said UConn athletic director David Benedict. "Reducing expenses is critical to our financial sustainability but that doesn't make this decision any more palatable for the student-athletes and coaches on the affected teams. We are committed to providing impacted Huskies with our full support during this transition, whether they wish to stay at UConn or transfer to another institution. Despite our current emotions, we are optimistic that the financial plan approved today will serve as an important roadmap for a bright future for UConn athletics."
UConn is set to join the Big East, a homecoming of sorts for programs that had struggled to maintain its identity in recent years.
From 2012-13, Syracuse and Pitt accepted invitations to the ACC, while West Virginia made a quick jump to the Big 12. Louisville eventually joined the ACC as well, while Rutgers made a move to the Big Ten. Amid those changes, the Big East basketball schools kept the conference name and spun off into their own league, while the remaining football schools, including UConn, became the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies have struggled mightily in football, and the men's basketball program has fallen from the ranks of national championship contenders. UConn football will become an FBS Independent school, while Husky fans hope that rejoining the likes of Villanova, Providence, and Seton Hall will reignite things on the hardwood.