Akron eliminates three sports programs for financial reasons amid COVID-19 crisis

Akron became the latest Division I school to cut athletic programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic when it announced Thursday it is eliminating its men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis programs. The cuts, which also include job cuts and salary reductions for some Zips coaches, are collectively expected to reduce the university’s financial support of the Akron athletic department by $4.4 million — a decrease of 23%. 

The cuts are “being taken as part of the University’s overall redesign to emerge from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that financially stabilizes the institution,” the university said.

“These decisions are very difficult but they are important and necessary at this time,” Akron Athletic Director Larry Williams said in a statement. “This action aligns us with our Mid-American Conference peers in the total number of sports and is part of the ongoing effort to redesign the University to ensure that UA continues to invest in high-demand, high-quality academic programs.”

A total of 32 student-athlete will be affected, Akron said, and their scholarships will be discontinued. Akron joins Cincinnati among the Division I schools that have cut sports amid the financial uncertainty of the coronavirus crisis after the Bearcats eliminated their men’s soccer program in April.

“This morning, I met via video conference with the student-athletes affected by the decision,” Williams said. “We understand that some may choose to leave Akron to continue in their sport at another university, and we have committed to offering them our full support throughout that process. This is a difficult day for all of us. We have dedicated student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff who have embraced being a Zip and make tremendous contributions to campus life in class, in competition and in our greater community.”

Akron will sponsor 17 sports in the 2020-21 academic year.

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