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University at Buffalo cutting four teams from its athletics department

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The University at Buffalo announced Monday that it is dropping four teams from its athletics program, including two which are in the midst of their now final spring seasons.

University officials held a news conference inside Capen Hall to confirm and explain the cuts. Three of the four teams being eliminated are men's programs: baseball, swimming and diving, and soccer. The women's rowing program is also being cut.

"The programs were selected through a number of criteria," said Allen Greene, UB's Athletics Director. "Part of it was financial. Part of it was Title IX and gender equity. Part of it was the sport offerings that the (Mid-American) Conference has. The other part of it, taking into account the climate. and potential investment to get the teams to where we thought they would be consistently successful."

Baseball and rowing are currently in their spring schedules. The cuts take effect at the end of the spring semester.

"Over the last many months, we have been conducting an all-arching review of our athletics department," said University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi. "The unfortunate reality is that we no longer have the resources to support 20 competitive Division I athletic programs."

The reductions bring the total number of teams in UB Athletics to 16, the minimum number of programs required for NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision status. 

The Mid-American Conference, in which UB competes, requires every member to maintain football and men's and women's basketball teams. Tripathi said UB is committed to remaining in the MAC.

The teams being dropped have all been competitive. Two of them have also produced players who later turned professional. Last month, UB baseball pitcher Mike McGee signed with the National League's Cincinnati Reds. Over the winter, UB soccer player Russell Cicerone joined Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers. 

The university will honor the remainder of scholarships as well as national letters of intent, and will also assist any affected student-athletes who wish to transfer. University officials say once cost savings are realized, they will save an estimated $2 million per year. 

Expenses, Greene suggested, are outpacing the revenue. This is in spite of what Tripathi said was an increase in fundraising for athletics.

"You think about the cost of scholarships. You think about the cost of travel. You think about the cost of staff. All those things pile up," said Greene. "And certainly understanding that the university budget has been relatively flat, but expenses are continuing to increase, that makes for a very difficult and challenging time to be able to provide consistent resources for an extended period of time to continue to be able to be successful."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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