ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on University of New Mexico proposal to eliminate sports (all times local):
The University of New Mexico Board of Regents has voted in favor of recommendations to eliminate four sports as the school’s troubled athletics department works to control its spending.
The unanimous vote came Thursday after dozens of people - from coaches and players to alumni and community members - testified on behalf of preserving the men’s soccer team and the skiing and beach volleyball programs.
The decision elicited boos and heckles from the crowd.
The regents acknowledged that the decision was difficult but that not addressing budget problems that have been in the making for more than a decade or finding ways to come into compliance with federal gender equity requirements under Title IX would end up being more costly for the university.
The head coach of one of the University of New Mexico’s highest profile men’s sports teams is warning regents that the state’s flagship school could become a laughing stock if they go through with eliminating the soccer team and other athletics programs.
Soccer coach Jeremy Fishbein told regents during a special meeting Thursday that they can’t put a price on the academic success of his team, his players’ contributions to the community and the effects they will have on the world as young leaders.
The regents are considering recommendations to eliminate men’s soccer along with the skiing and beach volleyball programs to shore up the troubled athletic department’s finances and meet Title IX requirements.
Others in the audience criticized the athletic department for a history of fiscal mismanagement and questionable spending by the previous administration, saying it’s unfair to cut the teams.
University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes says the state’s flagship university is facing “very difficult decisions and very tough choices” spurred on by a decade of overspending by its athletic department and missed goals under Title IX.
Stokes addressed a packed room at the start of a special Board of Regents meeting in Albuquerque on Thursday. The regents will be considering recommendations to eliminate the men’s soccer team along with the skiing and beach volleyball programs.
Student-athletes filled the room, with many dressed in red. They spoke in support of the teams that face elimination next summer if the regents approve the plan.
Stokes says failure to address the athletic department’s financial problems could compromise the entire university’s budget and lead to possible federal intervention when it comes to meeting gender equity requirements for athletic participation.
Four sports teams at New Mexico’s flagship university are facing the chopping block as University of New Mexico regents prepare to consider recommendations aimed at helping the troubled athletics department get its finances under control.
Among the recommendations announced by university president Garnett S. Stokes and athletic director Eddie Nuñez, men’s soccer would be eliminated by July 2019.
Men’s soccer has perhaps the highest profile nationally of Lobos men’s sports, having twice reached the Final Four and the championship game once.
Other teams to be cut include men’s and women’s skiing and beach volleyball.
Roster changes for men’s cross country, men’s indoor and outdoor track and modifications to the swimming and diving team also are on the table.
The regents will consider the recommendations during a meeting Thursday.
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