12-14 athletic scholarships to be eliminated for the fall semester

Students who are already receiving or promised money will still get it

Cassie Buchman, Editor-in-Chief

About 12-14 athletic scholarships will be cut in the fall semester in an effort to lessen the department’s deficit, officials said at a meeting for the Council on University Planning and Budgeting on Friday.

Athletics was charged with reducing about 23 scholarships over the course of two years.

Everybody who is currently on a scholarship will retain their scholarship. Those who have already been offered a scholarship will also be able to keep it.

“For some of these sports, they will go through a year or two where they won’t recruit anybody with any scholarship money,” said Athletic Director Tom Michael. “We’re all aware of how important scholarship money is to recruit students. There’s a challenge there.”

Michael said the athletic department has not decided which sports will see a scholarship reduction.

“We started to have those conversations, but specifically which ones and how many hasn’t been determined yet,” he said.

For the fiscal year ending in June 2017, athletics had a deficit of $757,864.

The vast majority of this deficit comes from a deficiency in Grant-in-Aid fee revenue, as well as the fact that the university got a little bit less NCAA revenue compared to what the university received in FY16, Michael said.

“What we’re trying to do is knock down this deficit,” Eastern President David Glassman said. “We decided to do is try to do that, first of all, through scholarship reductions. Until we have enough students to support the scholarships without having a deficit, we’ve got to reduce some.”

An increase of students would also help reduce this deficit, Glassman said.

Glassman said each scholarship is about $22,000.

“That would be over the two years somewhere between $400 and $500,000 (saved),” Glassman said.

All athletics scholarships have the same monetary value.

Any money saved will be to reduce the deficit intercollegiate athletics is running, Glassman said.

Michael said he expects that the reduction in scholarships will impact recruitment of student-athletes to some degree.

“It’s a little more challenging. It’s also something that we’re aware that needs to happen and our coaches are going to work hard to do that,” he said. “I don’t think student athletes are different than any other student (and) scholarship dollars are important. Helping offset those costs are important to everybody.”

Glassman agreed.

“It certainly makes it a little more difficult to recruit student athletes when there is less scholarship money to go around—that’s just something we’re going to have to deal with over the next few years,” Glassman said.

Though some sports have a required number of scholarships that must be allocated to remain Division 1, Glassman said the university meets these requirements and still will even with the reduction of scholarships.

The hope is that in three years, the scholarships will be put back into place with increased student enrollment, Glassman said.

“We’re working with the coaches, everybody’s aware we have to make reductions as we go through this process,” Michael said. “We’re working with each one to see where we can manage that in different ways.”

Michael said there is still much discussion about the financial status of the athletic department. It is still “as thin as (it) can be at present time from a staffing perspective,” though employees are keeping in mind how important the student-athlete experience is, he said.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].