Cut, cut, cut.
There are more cuts going on in college sports these days than during the filming of a Martin Scorsese movie.
And some of them are almost as interesting.
The Mid-American Conference’s Central Michigan, for example, recently cut its men’s indoor and outdoor track and field program. The good news is track and field’s annual budget was $629,798, which leads to a short-term savings of $300,000.
Now for the bad news.
Although dropping men’s indoor/outdoor track and field still allowed Central Michigan to remain at 16 sports overall — the NCAA minimum for Division I — it meant the Chippewas are offering just five men’s sports. That’s one below the NCAA minimum.
So, now, Central Michigan is seeking a temporary waiver.
Good luck with that.
Meanwhile in other MAC cuts, Akron has dropped men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis. But perhaps here is the unkindest cut of all. Bowling Green Athletic Director Bob Moosbrugger, a former Falcon baseball player, dropped baseball at his alma mater.
At least those MAC schools had those cost-cutting measures available. That isn’t the case for Marshall University. The Thundering Herd offers the minimum — 16 sports including six men’s sports. So Marshall can’t save any money there.
One place Marshall officials could shave costs, however, is to discontinue the practice of the football team and coaches staying in a hotel the night before a home game.
Marshall typically spends the night in a hotel in Charleston, which also means three buses are chartered to transport the team up and back.
Most Division I programs have followed this practice. But that was then and this is now. And, now, everyone is pinching pennies due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s why the MAC also has discontinued this practice.
In these days of penny-pinching at the Group of Five level due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is simply a luxury that isn’t affordable any longer.
It never was necessary, to be honest.
That’s why the late Joe Paterno never took his Penn State Nittany Lions to a hotel the night before a home game. And he had two national championships and five undefeated seasons to show for it.
Iconic Marshall coach Bobby Pruett also didn’t house his Herd teams in hotel rooms the night before a home game.
“The only times we stayed in a hotel before a home game,” said Pruett, “was when the conference was paying for it.”
That meant it was a championship game.
Besides halting the stays in hotels, the MAC also lowered the travel roster for football teams on the road to a maximum of 70 players. That is reduced from the previous total of 76.
Marshall has been proactive on that front. The limit is 70, but the Herd typically takes about 65-66 on the road.
Perhaps the biggest scorched-earth news comes from Marshall’s friendliest rival, East Carolina. The Pirates, who are scheduled to host the Herd on Aug. 29, have slashed its athletic budget 10% to 20% in the wake of COVID-19.
It is so bad, East Carolina’s Athletics Fiscal Sustainability Working Group recently released a statement reading, “The current fiscal model for ECU Athletics is not sustainable.”
Long story short, the Pirates are in deep trouble. It’s becoming questionable if ECU can afford to continue competing in the American Athletic Conference.
And there’s no room at the C-USA Inn.