MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The University of Minnesota announced several significant program cuts to the Gophers’ athletic department Thursday.

According to the university, the affected programs include: men’s gymnastics, men’s tennis and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field.

The teams and scholarships of those programs will continue through the end of the 2020-21 school year, with the cuts occurring next year.

“Should health and safety precautions allow, these teams will have the opportunity to compete during the 2020-21 season,” the university said in a statement.

In August, the Big Ten Conference postponed all fall sports, impacting football, cross country, volleyball and soccer at the University of Minnesota.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the Big Ten’s decision to postpone fall 2020-21 sports has greatly increased the financial concerns. Our athletic department is now facing a projected loss of revenue of approximately $75 million just this fiscal year. This is a significant deficit and one that will have an impact for years to come,” the university said.

The university said it was determined that the athletic department could not “financially or equitably sustain” 25 varsity programs.

At this time, university officials do not anticipate any other sports program will be affected.

The move is pending approval by the Board of Regents.

Jackson Allen is a senior on the Gopher men’s tennis team, one of four teams impacted by these cuts.

“Everybody is stunned,” Allen said. “You don’t dream of having to break up with your university or your university breaking up with you.”

When Allen learned that one of the big factors that led to these cuts was Title IX compliancy, he was disappointed his team, which is 8-12 players, was considered a helpful cut.

“If it was really about head count, we could definitely make due with eight, and it’s only 4.5 scholarships, so it’s really not much,” Allen said.

As a senior, Allen knows he’s not losing out on much, but he says main concern is the impact on his tennis coach, Geoff Young, and younger players.

“Geoff’s son is a senior in high school, best player in the state, and he’s committed to play here for his dad, which I know he’s dreamed about,” Allen said.

Shane Wiskus is a senior on the Gopher men’s gymnastics team, which was also cut.

“It’s devastating. It’s like a piece of me was just ripped out today, so it’s a very sad day,” Wiskus said.

He’s most disappointed in the university’s dependency on the football program’s revenue stream.

“If you’re reliant on one year and one program to make up all your money … I’m a business student and I understand the basics of a good business plan, and I think that’s a terrible business plan,” Wiskus said.

Wiskus is a 2021 Olympic hopeful who plans on making the most of his final season.

“I think we have a very strong team this year, so my motivation is still going to be to win NCAA and prove the athletic administration wrong,” Wiskus said.


Marielle Mohs

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