Athletic departments across the country are trimming back. Rice Athletics has no plans to cut sports and will keep its 14 teams intact.
Rice Athletics does not intend to cut any of its sponsored athletic teams. In fact, dropping a sport was never on the table at Rice. “It’s just not been part of our calculus at all,” Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard said.
The rationale for the ease of that decision hinges on how college athletics are currently structured. Rice fields 14 varsity sports, the minimum required by the NCAA to retain D1 status.
Dropping a sport to save money in the current environment would require Rice to get a waiver, which likely would be temporary. The ramifications of that decision are currently on display at Central Michigan.
CMU went below the required six men’s sports when it opted to drop the it’s men’s track and field this spring. To prevent the loss of their D1 status, they applied for a waiver which was granted in early June. Athletic Director Michael Alford noted that the waiver applied to the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years. If Central Michigan intends to maintain it’s D1 status beyond that, they’ll have to add another men’s sport or get another waiver.
Rice wasn’t interested in playing that game. Given the infrastructure and athletes already in place on campus, cutting back on a program for such a brief period of time might create more problems than it solves. Central Michigan may very well decide to reinstate its men’s track program in two years.
That said, the cancelation of the NCAA Tournament put universities across the nation in a tough spot. Many depend on revenue distributions from that marquee spring event. Losing that check put budgets everywhere under the microscope.
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That might have been enough to spur change on its own, but the dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to loom over the upcoming academic calendar. It quickly became clear that more changes were on the way.
Here’s a brief list of D1 programs that have been eliminated during the past four months:
- Old Dominion: Wrestling
- Central Michigan: Men’s track and field
- Cincinnati: Men’s soccer
- FIU: Men’s track and field (reported, not announced yet by school)
- Akron: Men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis
- Furman: Baseball and men’s lacrosse
- Wisconsin Green-Bay: Men’s and women’s tennis
- East Carolina: Men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming and diving
- App State: Men’s soccer, men’s tennis and men’s track and field
- Wright State: Softball, men’s and women’s tennis