SI.com Daily Cover: Pandemic Puts Olympic Sports on Chopping Block

Bill Huber

COVID-19 potentially could do more than wipe out the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It could wipe out sports such as swimming, track and field and cross country.

As Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde noted in Thursday’s SI.com Daily Cover:

As universities scramble to cover virus-related financial hardships, they’re sacrificing a piece of unique fabric in the American quilt: Olympic sports. In Division I alone, 30 athletic teams have been eliminated in eight weeks. Four schools have cut at least three sports and a fifth, Brown, discontinued a whopping eight athletic programs. According to one site tracking the cuts, more than 80 programs have been eliminated across all levels.

“We are all holding our breath in the Olympic sports community,” says Kathy DeBoer, executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. “The people in sports that are not dropped get to breathe again. It’s like there are six bullets in the gun and 10 of us are standing there. If you’re still standing, I guess you want to celebrate, but you don’t—you just start breathing again before the next round.”

With revenue declining, university athletic departments are being forced to make tough choices. Some men’s track and field programs, for instance, lose more than $1 million. When the football and basketball money is flowing, universities can use the haves to pay for the have-nots. When the money isn’t flowing, that gun that DeBoer referenced can be loaded. Then again, it’s worth noting Cincinnati cut men’s soccer but pays football coach Luke Fickell $2.3 million a year.

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