Temple University will cut seven varsity sports next year, including baseball, softball and men’s crew, to save $3 million and address gender gaps in its distribution of scholarship money.
Nine coaches will lose their jobs, and more than 150 returning student-athletes will be affected, school officials said Friday.
“We tried everything possible to avoid doing what we’re doing today,” said Athletic Director Kevin Clark, who addressed a room full of tearful athletes earlier in the day. “I feel like I’m taking their dreams away.”
However, he called it the right thing to do given a $44 million budget for 24 varsity programs.
Seven of those teams — five male and two female — will be cut in the 2013-2014 school year. The others are men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, women’s rowing and men’s gymnastics. Many of the teams are steeped in tradition. Templehas been fielding a baseball team for 84 years.
The teams were targeted based on finances, Title IX considerations, facility needs and what Clark called the student-athletes’ “welfare.”
Temple moved from the Atlantic 10 Conference to the American Athletic Conference this year, but Clark said the move did not drive the decision. Although travel expenses are up given far-flung opponents in Florida, Texas and elsewhere, the school said that revenues from TV, apparel contracts and other sales have also increased.
Student-athletes without a team next year can stay at Temple and keep their scholarships or transfer without sitting out a year.
Facility needs drove some of the decisions, Clark said. He estimated that a new facility for baseball and softball would cost about $20 million, but a soccer facility costs only $1 million to $2 million.
The decisions were also designed to address the gender gap in the distribution of scholarship money to student athletes, officials said. Male athletes now receive 58 percent of that money, although they make up just 49 percent of the student body, according to Clark. He said he knew Temple faced a looming budget problem the day he took the job earlier this year.
“We can’t pretend that we don’t have a problem and that we’re providing a great experience for our student-athletes, when in reality we’re not,” Clark said.