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Bowling Green drops baseball; will other DI programs follow suit?

Bowling Green FalconsAthletic-department cuts have forced Bowing Green State University to drop its baseball program, saving the school a half-million dollars annually. Will other college-baseball programs follow suit?

Billed as a restructuring of the athletic department in face of a $2 million deficit, part of a school-wide deficit of $29 million anticipated for the 2020-2021 academic year. According to a FAQ released by the athletic department, the move will eliminate two full-time coaches and a part-time coach. There are 34 student-athletes also affected by the move. The school says it will honor scholarship commitments for all and will also help student-athletes transfer should they wish to complete for another school.

It’s no secret that baseball will be a target as colleges look to cut budgets both on the campus-wide level and the athletic-department level. Though there are relatively few full-scholarship players playing college baseball and the overall cost savings may not be overwhelming, dropping a non-revenue baseball while keeping other non-revenue sports makes it fairly easy to ensure compliance with Title IX equity guidelines. When the University of Wisconsin dropped baseball in 1991, for example, conforming to Title IX equity guidelines and an athletic-department shortfall were given as reasons behind the move. Now, the UW athletic department is run a little differently than the average NCAA Division I program–it’s required to at least break even and must operate without subsidies–but for many programs needing to cut back because a cutback in NCAA revenues, baseball will surely be an attractive target.

If there are additional cutbacks in NCAA disbursements due to interruptions in the 2020 college football season, look for other athletic directors to target non-revenue sports like baseball. The cancelation of March Madness cost NCAA member schools an estimated $375 million, and it could be worse with more cancelations this fall.

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