EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP and New Mexico State will not be cutting athletic programs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, both athletic directors confirmed to KTSM 9 Sports.
Four-year universities across the country are facing budget shortfalls stemming from the pandemic and have been forced to cut sports. According to the Associated Press, a total of 97 teams have been eliminated as of last Friday. That number is expected to surpass 100 by the end of the week.
UTEP and New Mexico State are facing the same budget issues every other athletic department is facing, but both universities are at the minimum number (16) of sports teams required to play FBS, Division I football.
“We’ve seen that [athletic departments cutting sports]. There’s rumors that a school in our own conference [WAC], Chicago State, is perhaps discontinuing a sport. We are at the minimum, so discontinuing a sport is not possible for us,” said New Mexico State Director of Athletics Mario Moccia. “When we had the last big budget crisis, equestrian was discontinued a few years ago. So now we have 16 sports and they’ll all be good to go.”
“Cutting sports is not on our agenda, thank goodness,” said UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter. “There’s no question, though, we’re going to have to make some budget cuts and tighten our belt because of the loss of revenue and what everybody is dealing with.”
Generally speaking, football and basketball are the only revenue sports for Group of Five conference schools like UTEP in Conference USA. The same can be said for New Mexico State, a football independent, and a member of the Western Athletic Conference in all other sports. That means every other sport costs the university money and that number can exceed over $1 million per sport, every year.
“What most people don’t know and what the general public just doesn’t think is that this is real money. It costs real money to run these programs,” said Senter. “Very rarely do you find a program doesn’t cost you $500,000 [per year]. Most of them are pushing $1 million. If you are upside-down $2, $3, even $4 million – there’s only so many places you can go to make a cut.”
Not all budgets are created equal, though. As it stands, no Power Five conference school has been forced to make a cut.
Of the 19 Division I teams to have been cut thus far, 15 of those are men’s sports while the other four are women’s sports.