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Colleges are cutting sports programs because of coronavirus cash-flow problems | Here’s the list

NJ.com logo NJ.com 6 days ago By Mike Rosenstein, nj.com

It’s the elephant in the NCAA’s room: money.

Schools don’t want to send student-athletes back on the field without being able to open the rest of their campuses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But if football teams don’t return to action this season, the budgets for athletic departments across the country will be decimated.

Remember, the NCAA canceled all winter and spring sports 10 weeks ago, including March Madness, so money is starting to dry up on campus.

In fact, some schools have already started making tough choices as a result of cash-flow problems during the COVID-19 crisis:

Furman is discontinuing its baseball and men’s lacrosse programs.

Cincinnati is eliminating its men’s soccer program.

Bowling Green is cutting its baseball program.

Old Dominion is pulling the plug on its wrestling program.

Akron is eliminating men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis.

FIU is cutting its men’s indoor track and field program.

Wisconsin-Green Bay is suspending its men’s and women’s tennis programs.

The Charlotte Observer reports East Carolina is “looking to trim at least one of 20 sports.”

In addition, the Mid-American Conference announced Tuesday changes to its postseason tournaments for 17 sports, including eliminating the tourneys for eight sports. Mlive.com reports that “beginning with the 2020-21 academic year, conference champions in field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s lacrosse, softball and baseball will be determined based on regular-season league records, rather than postseason tournaments.”

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Unfortunately, these painful cuts are probably the tip of the iceberg as colleges navigate a financial mine field during the age of the coronavirus.

The fate of the Big Ten’s 2020 football season could be decided on June 7, when the presidents and chancellors of the conference’s 14 schools hold their annual meeting.

On Friday, Northwestern President Morton Schapiro told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg that “I don’t see that we’re going to have a Big Ten season with 12 of the 14 schools playing. I’d be surprised if we play and it’s not all 14 of us." Schapiro chairs the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors.

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In a subsequent tweet, Rittenberg clarified Schapiro was not suggesting the Big Ten will be all-or-none when it comes to football season, saying he just “expects all 14 schools to be able to play this fall, unless state policies prohibit campuses from opening."

Big Ten president Kevin Warren told CNBC earlier this month that the league is not rushing to make a decision. “I’m looking to be in a position in the next six to eight weeks to see if we will have sports in the fall. But even bigger than sports in the fall is we’re collectively focusing on what we need to do to have school in the fall. If we don’t have school in the fall, we don’t have sports in the fall.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert told ESPN last week the NCAA will not mandate or oversee a uniform start time for the return of college sports during the COVID-19 crisis and it will defer to university presidents and local officials on when, and how, athletes return to competition. This sets the stage for a college football free-for-all this fall.

(NJ Advance Media’s James Kratch contributed to this report.)

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Mike Rosenstein may be reached at mrosenstein@njadvancemedia.com. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.

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