Colleges eager to cut costs amid a financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic have settled on an easy target: low-profile sports that don’t draw many spectators, attract a disproportionate number of white or foreign athletes and are relatively pricey to operate.
Schools ranging from highly selective private institutions like Stanford University to public institutions including the University of Connecticut and the University of Akron are scrapping varsity teams for sports such as rowing, fencing, tennis and squash.
The teams have small rosters and require expensive facilities. They also don’t make money for their schools. Dartmouth College, which is eliminating its golf program, will also shutter the Hanover Country Club after losing more than $1 million annually on the property.
Football and men’s basketball, which tend to be the biggest revenue drivers for Division I college athletics thanks to TV broadcast deals and ticket sales, aren’t being cut, though their fall schedules are shifting due to public health concerns.
Many universities are expecting lower tuition revenue as families face their own financial crises. They are also spending heavily on personal protective gear to try to bring at least some students back to campus safely this fall.