College sports taking hits as State tightens belt

   

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It seems that the cuts to higher education have found their first real victims – in the athletic departments.

Back in late June, Gov. Eric Greitens withheld $251 million in spending to make Missouri’s budget work, including $36 million in higher education funding. One of the first casualties will be the cheerleading team at the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

In an article from the student newspaper, University News, it was reported that the university will not be funding a cheerleading team this semester, with the school saying it expects to save $45,000 this year by dropping the program.

And despite the fact that their lodging, food, and transportation all come out of the team’s pockets, the fact remains that cheerleading usually carries a higher insurance cost due to being high-risk for injuries.

But the cut program could also affect students who received a scholarship to be on the team, roughly 20 students who received $1,400 per year.

UMKC’s athletic budget for 2016 was $14.7 million, and the athletics department has been charged with trimming $1.5 million from the 2017 budget.

But they’re not the only ones dealing with cuts. Missouri State University also is tightening the belt of their budget, which carried a $26.2 million price tag in 2016. To address their budget concerns, they’ve reduced operating expenses in each athletic program by anywhere from seven to twelve percent, while also cutting scholarships in equivalency sports and restructuring their academic aid to fifth-year students.

They also eliminated the field hockey team and replaced it with beach volleyball, which is expected to save the school in the realm of $300,000. Of the 17 members on the roster, 12 were scholarship athletes.

In total, those cuts are expected to save $1.1 million.

The University of Missouri also has been working to balance their budget with less funding from the state, namely by consolidating and eliminating positions, but no cuts in terms of athletic programs have been made.

All of this is happening as Missouri legislators are already looking to what is being projected to be a tough budget in the next fiscal year, which could mean more cuts could still be forthcoming.

(Featured photo courtesy of UMKC Athletics/MSH Photography)

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.