How many sports?
And at what cost?
On more than a few occasions, we’ve talked about reviving sports that had been cut (crew, men’s tennis and swimming) and even adding sports (hockey, bowling, beach volleyball). Yeah, we covered a lot of stuff.
But recently we wrote about how the entire rowing staff was “stepping down” and how Pat Hobbs stated that there would be a “national search” for a new coach. And I posited that, perhaps, this might be the start of an upgrade to the Olympic sports.
But not everyone was in agreement that Hobbs should even bother. Since joining the Big Ten, Rutgers Rowing has finished last all three years at the Big Ten Rowing Championships. And its results in its previous conferences weren’t much better. And that generated some reader reaction:
Before Hobbs goes off and hires a new coach and staff, stop and think this through. Maybe the best solution is to drop women’s crew altogether? Save three quarters of a million dollars. Replace it with a varsity sport that requires a lot less $ investment.
And while we’re at it take a long hard look at w/swimming & diving too. Would the same approach be logical there?
Sadly, rowing at Rutgers is a case study in institutional neglect. The oldest sport at RU has been allowed to systematically die on the vine.
The question for Pat Hobbs is whether Title IX calculus necessitates maintaining the program. There is part of me that thinks having a women’s rowing program along with a men’s club program has become more of a nuisance to the athletic administration.
I actually could see a scenario where it all comes to an end.....
Hobbs needs to put an end to this nonsense. Do it right or don’t do it at all.
What would Rutgers get by cutting sports?
Cutting sports could save money. But here’s my thought: as was mentioned above, there are Title IX issues. And what male sports are you going to cut to balance that? Remember, we only have ten men’s sports now. There is also the point that if money is saved, it won’t be going to the other sports. It will most likely go to reducing the University’s “direct institutional support”, the subsidy. No other sport is going to benefit from cutting rowing or swimming or anything else.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say we get rid of rowing. Currently there are 47 female athletes on that squad. And based on the 2016 NCAA report, 25 of them receive scholarship money. The NCAA allows 20 full equivalent scholarships for rowing; in 2015-16, Rutgers had 11.77. We weren’t even giving as much as the NCAA allowed.
For rowing revenue, student fees accounted for $243,824, direct institutional support was $640,433. The scholarship aid totaled $470,322. The total operating expenses for rowing in ‘15-’16 was $963,158. And as I said, I would almost guarantee that the money saved would simply reduce the subsidy and student fees and not benefit any other sport.
And let’s consider this: in 2006 when the last round of sports elimination was done, Rutgers dropped fencing (men and women), men’s tennis, men’s swimming, and crew. They are gone. They aren’t coming back in the foreseeable future. So, to think this way....
The point of my original post was simply that we should seek to be good at a few things instead of just "competitive" (in this case less than that) in all that remain.
Not forever, but until we can fund adequately and compete at the top level groom the product line.
....is probably wrong. “Not forever” might be a nice thought, but it likely isn’t accurate. Once gone, sports just don't come back. It’s been 11 years since the cuts at RU - any conversation about restoration besides here?
Princeton dropped wrestling in 1993, and it was brought back a decade later, with a $3 million endowment. But that’s Princeton. Fresno State cut wrestling; it, too, is bringing it back after a ten year absence. Those, however, are rarities. In a 2016 article, Forbes noted, “101 men's wrestling programs have been dropped since 1988-89, including 41 at the Division I level”, the largest drop for any sport. That same article notes tennis as the second biggest victim. For Rutgers Wrestling, be thankful we are in the Big Ten.
And on that note....
We owe it to the Big Ten to have sports. As many as we can. If there is anyone out there who did not feel an overwhelming sense of relief and salvation when we were invited to join the conference, please step forward so we can address your mental state. We were thrown a lifeline. We were offered survival in a cold, cruel athletic landscape. I get it that we are the poor stepchild of the conference, but that doesn’t mean we have to be the poor, stupid stepchild.
Take a look at the present lineup of sports offered by Big Ten schools.
Rutgers is pretty much on point/on target when it comes to the sports we have. And every one of those sports is a Big Ten sponsored sport. You could say, well, look at Maryland. And they have championships to boot. They also had a considerable head start in making their programs viable. And, besides, do you really want to be Maryland? Or Purdue, or Illinois?
And for the sake of argument, what about that other conference we thought we might want to be a part of at one time?
Rutgers would actually be one of the larger programs in the ACC, on a par with NC State in number of sports. For the record, the average number of sports at NCAA D1 institutions is 19.
We owe it to the Big Ten to have all those sports and, more importantly, to make them good. We get enough flak from B1G fans now; imagine what they'd say if we started cutting sports. We owe it to the conference, to the athletes, to the fans, to the state.
Do it right or don’t do it at all. But please....don’t cut any sports.