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SPORTS: UVM sports cuts will save less than $50,000







By Candace Page
Free Press Staff Writer

The University of Vermont will net savings of less than $50,000 from the elimination of five sports, according to figures provided by the school's athletic department.

The five sports cost about $114,000 a year, athletic director Richard Farnham estimated last week, but they bring in $65,000 in income from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

That $65,000 will be lost when the sports are cut.

UVM announced Sept. 13 that it will eliminate men's and women's gymnastics, women's volleyball, men's indoor track and men's outdoor track at the end of this school year.

In May, school officials billed the planned cuts as one way for the athletic department to manage a three-year, $350,000 budget reduction.

In September, when the cuts were announced, officials said they didn't know how much money would be saved. They acknowledged the amount wouldn't be great and said the real purpose of the cuts was not savings but a more focused athletic program.

"I don't think students and coaches understand that it's not just financial," Farnham said last week. Fewer sports mean the department can devote more attention to the remaining ones when it comes to facilities scheduling, athletic trainers' time and the like, he said.

Farnham added up the savings like this: gymnastics, $48,000; volleyball, $26,000; track, about $40,000, or half the $81,000 it cost to run both the men's and women's track program last year.

On the other side of the ledger, UVM receives about $13,000 a year from the NCAA for every sport it offers in excess of 14, Farnham said. When the number of sports drops from 27 to 22, UVM will forgo $65,000.

Track and field coach Ed Kusiak disputed Farnham's estimates, saying the savings from eliminating his men's team will be less than expected since the men and women shared resources like coaches and buses to meets. The women's teams survived the cuts.

Kusiak and his team members have launched a letter-writing campaign and a web site, uvmtrack.com, to oppose cutting their sport.

He said Thursday he hopes supporters of the program can raise enough money to endow the track and field program and save it from the ax.

David Nestor, UVM's interim vice president for student affairs, said in order to reconsider cutting the track program an "endowment" would have to be able to sustain the program in the long term. The university would not want to renew the program for a year or two, he said.

"We'd certainly consider any major gift that's offered," Nestor said. "A gift like that would get careful consideration and scrutiny."

Contact Candace Page at 660-1865 or at cpage@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com

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