The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

UMD to cut eight varsity teams due to budget


The University of Maryland (UMD) will cut men’s indoor track and field, men’s outdoor track and field, men’s cross country, men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, men’s tennis, women’s water polo, and the women’s acrobatics and tumbling team for the 2012-2013 school year to cope with the athletic department’s budget deficit.


CHS senior Natalya Ares committed to swim for UMD several weeks before she was notified that the swimming and diving team was being cut. Within a day and a half, she had to commit to another school.

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“It would have been nice to know that there was even a possibility of the team being cut,” Ares said. “I would’ve handled the situation differently. There are a lot of people who aren’t going to end up going to Maryland even though they really wanted to.”


In deciding to commit to UMD, Ares turned down a scholarship to swim at Northwestern. By the time that she was notified about the elimination of the UMD swimming and diving program, the Northwestern scholarship had been given away.


University president Wallace Loh appointed representatives of the university’s key constituents as well as faculty, staff, alumni and a student to the President’s Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics (PCIA) in July 2011. Loh could not be reached for an interview, as he is currently traveling in India, but assistant vice president Brian Ullmann responded on his behalf.


“For several years, the athletic department has cut expenses and attempted to raise revenues,” Ullmann said in an e-mail. “We considered a wide variety of expense-reduction

and revenue-enhancing measures, but the severity of the problem required decisive action now.”

According to a Nov. 11 PCIA report, the goal of the commission was to make recommendations to increase revenue and decrease costs of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA), while maintaining the quality of the athletics program at UMD. The commission ultimately recommended cutting eight varsity sports, improving fundraising, reallocating funds to the remaining teams to better support them and reformatting budget reports so that the ICA’s progress towards repaying its debt would be clear. The commission expects the debt to be repaid by the 2015 fiscal year by following these recommendations.

“The support for our student athletes ranked last in the ACC [Atlantic Coast Conference],” Ullmann said. “That means that we spend less on things such as academic support, training and sports medicine than student athletes at other schools. We wanted to improve that.”

According to the report, UMD should be ranked sixth in the ACC for investment per student athlete for the 2013 fiscal year.

“Over 90 percent of universities subsidize their athletic departments with millions of dollars,” Ullmann said. “Here at UMD, our athletic department must be entirely self-sufficient. No state funds are used to support athletics here.”

According to a Nov. 21 Washington Post article, Loh and athletic director Kevin Anderson will allow the teams that are cut to continue if they are able to raise eight years worth of total program costs by June 30, or $29 million total for the eight teams. In order to comply with Title IX requirements, the same number of women’s teams and men’s teams were cut. In the process of making cuts, each men’s team was paired with a women’s team. Both teams in each pair must raise enough money to continue for either to do so.

“The money issue is really out of the individual students’ hands,” said Rebecca Yep, a UMD sophomore who runs cross country and indoor and outdoor track. “I don’t think the general public realizes how much money is needed; at this point it’s not like we can just host a fundraising bake sale or car wash to raise a couple thousand dollars. No, we need millions of dollars, and therefore it is my understanding that we are looking to corporate and alumni sponsorship.”

Although the women’s running teams are not being cut, they will still feel the loss of the men’s teams.

“A huge attraction to potential runners was the close-knit, co-ed, family atmosphere of the team that is very rare in the collegiate running community across the nation,” Yep said. “Getting rid of our guys is like ripping away half of our family.”

According to Yep, she and her teammates are willing to do whatever they can to prevent the men’s cross country and track and field programs from being cut. So far, they have created a Facebook group, sold t-shirts, contacted other schools, newspapers and running websites and written letters and petitions to gain support.

“Everyone on the team is definitely dedicated and willing to do what is necessary to fight to save their family,” Yep said. “This is our lives we’re talking about, not some random club or class.”

However, Yep and her teammates acknowledge that they may not be able to raise enough money to continue the programs.

“Our coaches are working with many of the men to uphold scholarships, help older athletes finish out their college career at Maryland and help the younger athletes communicate with other schools in the case of transferring,” Ullmann said.

According to CHS ’09 alumnus Drew Fisher, a current UMD junior who swam on the team his freshman and sophomore years, the juniors on the swim and dive team are not planning on transferring.

“I think most of the freshmen will leave, but I think a lot of the sophomores are on the edge right now because they’re already invested in their majors and have set a good foundation here,” Fisher said.

Ullmann believes that the increase in spending per athlete that will result from the cuts will help the UMD athletics program.

“If we are going to fulfill our mission of preparing our student athletes academically, socially and athletically, we must increase our levels of support,” Ullmann said.

Nevertheless, many people wish that that helping some athletes didn’t come at the expense of eliminating others.

“Sports don’t last forever, but you should decide to quit the sports you do on your own terms,” Ares said. “Just because you don’t play a spectator sport doesn’t mean you have any less of a right to play that sport.”

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UMD to cut eight varsity teams due to budget