Former UConn athletes urge trustees not to cut their sports

Published on Friday, 12 June 2020 17:43
Written by PAT EATON-ROBB

ASSOCIATED PRESS

STORRS - Members of UConn's Board of Trustees heard from former athletes Friday as it considers eliminating several sports in budget cuts made necessary by losses suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trustees participated Friday in a financial workshop in advance of a June 24 meeting to vote on a new school budget.

Scott Jordan, UConn's chief financial officer, went through various fiscal scenarios for the entire school. He said how much money the school will lose during the next fiscal year will be dependent on such things as how much revenue-generating research can be conducted and how many students will be on campus during during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The school has made preliminary plans to welcome students back to campus on Aug. 31.

But Jordan, who estimated the deficit for the Storrs and regional campuses could range between $47 million and $129 million, made it clear that the new budget will include cuts across the entire school, including athletics.

“There are a bunch of activities we will have to undertake and even in the longer term over the next several years to get ourselves back in line,” he said. “Those include the generation of new revenue, conducting an economic program review, looking at athletics and reducing our labor expense.”

The board has said it is looking for cuts of about 25 percent from athletics, which last year needed a $42.3 million school subsidy to break even.

Track, cross country, golf and several other sports are expected to be considered for elimination. School spokesman Mike Enright said no details of the athletic cuts would be made public before the June 24 meeting.

Terra Briody, of Ridgefield, who rose from a walk-on to track team captain in 2015, was part of a long line of alumni who queued up during the public comment section of the conference call to urge the board not to cut their sport.

“This program taught me pride, self discipline and the patience that is revealed to you when it takes years of hard work to achieve something great,” she said.

Former UConn golfers have said they have raised about $500,000 for that program, which costs about $750,000 a year to field.

Andy Bessette, the board's vice chair for finance, made no promises.

“We're going through a tough financial time at UConn, like many universities and colleges,” he said. “It's just a time when everybody has to contribute. We're going to take what you all said to heart.”



Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, UConn on Friday, 12 June 2020 17:43. Updated: Friday, 12 June 2020 17:45.