University President Wallace D. Loh, athletic director Kevin Anderson and two members of a special committee delivered a press conference on Monday announcing the elimination of eight Maryland varsity sports teams (listed here) due to budget issues. Both Loh and Anderson said this was an incredibly difficult decision to make.
"This is one of the most difficult and heart-wrenching decisions that I've made," Loh said. "This is not a decision I arrived at lightly. This is a decision I arrived after talking to many people, and yes, by praying."
""The only thing I can equate it to losing some family members," Anderson said.
However, Loh said it was ultimately a necessary decision for the long-term financial health of the entire athletic program.
"I have a responsibility to ensure the financial responsibility of this university," Loh said. "[That] means we cannot continue having our expenses larger than our revenues year after year, living beyond our means and kicking the can down the road."
"This was a very painful choice between having many programs, all of which are undersupported ... or the model of having a smaller program that is better supported so our student-athletes can compete on the field and in the classroom," he continued.
Some other points made in the press conference:
- Anderson reaffirmed that the programs will be given a chance to raise the necessary funds to continue. "I wouldn't be sitting up here in front of you if I didn’t think there was the possibility of raising these funds," Anderson said.
- Loh and Anderson all declined to blame former athletic director Debbie Yow for the current situation. "We are addressing the problem as we are facing it today. We are looking forward," Loh said. Anderson also said that football attendance this season had nothing to do with the decision to cut programs.
- Commission member Barry Gossett admitted that, without success in football and basketball, "we're not going to have a good deal of revenue to work with."
- Anderson and Loh both affirmed that the $2 million buyout for former football coach Ralph Friedgen was not taken out of the main athletics budget.
- Anderson said he is in the planning stages of putting together a comprehensive fundraising plan.