A campus slashes sports: a knight or rook sacrifice?

I’ve been writing about academic cuts for a long time, and not much about sports programs. I’ve also been burned by my foolish 2008-2009 prediction that colleges could cut back on athletics (laugh all you like). So it’s an interesting change of pace to mention a campus that is cutting back sports without hitting academics.

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St Cloud State UniversitySt. Cloud State University (SCSU) will truncate or end a number of sports programs.  They won’t hit academic programs, so is this an alternative to queen sacrifices?

The causes, if not the response, certainly look familiar to my readers:

St. Cloud State, like other public universities across the state, is dealing with falling enrollment and nagging deficits.

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SCSU enrollment stands at 15,461, down from 18,650 in the fall of 2010, a more dramatic drop than at many of its sister schools. It is currently battling a $6 million budget gap.

The decision-making process for picking which sports to cut and which to retain parallels those going into academic program slicing:

The school said it considered several factors when weighing the cuts: the history and tradition of the programs, facilities and their condition, recent competitive success, investment needs, alumni engagement and financial support and regional interest.

However, the remedy is relatively small, with St. Cloud sports just getting slightly pruned: “The university said the cuts will save $250,000, or about 5 percent of the athletic department’s general fund allocation in fiscal year 2017.”  I’m not sure cuts of this scale can, of themselves, seriously help a whole campus financial crunch.

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On the other hand, if a campus made athletics cuts at a somewhat larger scale, would that enable them to protect academics?

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(thanks to Carl Berger)

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