UVM to cut baseball, softball teams

In a cost-cutting move that underlines exactly the financial crisis UVM is currently facing, Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics, Dr. Robert Corran, announced last Friday that the University would be forced to cut varsity baseball and softball following the 2009 season.”As part of the University management effort, we have decided to discontinue varsity baseball and softball effective the end of the current season,” Corran said.”I know it is very painful for them,” Corran said. “It’s simply the hardest thing that I have to do. You feel for them, it’s just a very, very difficult thing.”Corran cited a $1.1 million gap in revenues versus expenses for the athletic department’s 2009-2010 budget.A release from the athletic communications department stated that the athletic department will see a 6.5 percent budget cut for the upcoming year, which factored into the decision to cut baseball and softball.”We met our senior management group on several occasions and came to the conclusion that baseball and softball were the two sports that we could realize the financial objective — which was to balance the budget — and to do so in a way that impacted as few student-athletes as possible,” Corran said.Corran said that once it became clear that across-the-board cuts would be detrimental to the quality of all varsity sports, a decision was made to make vertical cuts in the program.As to the question of why baseball and softball were the sports selected to be cut, Corran cited a number of criteria, including the expenses being put into the program versus the revenue they created, along with obliging to Title IX standards.”For those two teams, I believe that the savings come to something between $850,000 and $900,000,” University President Daniel Mark Fogel said on the day the cuts were announced.  “And, you know, you can’t cut one without cutting the other, because of Title IX.””The participation of men and women in athletics, under federal law, has to be proportional to the proportions of men and women in the student body, and so does the allocation of athletic scholarships,” Fogel said.Both Fogel and Corran also cited climate concerns and travel expenses as factors in the decision to cut baseball and softball as well.According to the statement released from athletic communications, both teams spend much of their season on the road due to the cold climate of Vermont, and travel expenses certainly add up.”We have a limited number of home games we can play given the climate for those sports and very high costs given the travel to more temperate climates during much of the collegiate baseball season,” Fogel said.Another factor in the decision, Corran said, was adhering to America East standards. Corran said basketball, lacrosse and soccer are mandated sports in order to participate in the conference.Baseball and softball, however, are not required.With the announcement, six UVM athletic staff overall — including four coaches —  were laid off, and 43 players are now left without a team to play for.Corran said that UVM would be open to re-establishing the programs in the future if the school has the financial capacity to do so, but for now the decision to cut the two sports was the best available to the University.”We faced this challenge in the best way we could and certainly made what we believe is the very best decision we could,” Corran said.”There’s a tremendous personal price for the staff and student athletes involved in the two programs, but there is also some real value and benefit for the program and the other 18 programs in that we now have a very stable financial foundation moving forward,” Corran said.”We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that the program continues to thrive well into the future.”