Desperate to balance their budgets, some community colleges are cutting sports teams, reports Inside Higher Ed. But colleges are reluctant to cut the most popular and costly sports, such as football, basketball, baseball and women’s softball.
Three Mississippi colleges are cutting at least one sport: soccer at East Mississippi Community College; golf and tennis at Pearl River Community College; golf, tennis and track at Southwest Mississippi Community College.
“Mississippi has a very storied and prestigious position in community and junior college football, probably more so than any other state,” said (James) Southward, who was for 15 years a football coach at Mississippi Delta Community College. “Our football, basketball, baseball and women’s softball teams are very costly to operate, but they’re also the sports that bring students onto campus. It’s kind of a pay-back situation. The feeling among most of our presidents is that if they start cutting out some of these major sports, they would see a major drop in enrollment. If that happens, it’s as bad as being cut in funding.”
The state’s community colleges have adopted a shorter athletic season to save money.
In upstate New York, Erie Community College cut eight teams – men’s and women’s golf, cross-country, track and field, and indoor track — but cut costs by only $40,000 a year. Football was saved.
However, some colleges have decided football is just too expensive. North Iowa Community College dropped football to save $250,000.
Sports teams attract young students looking for a traditional college experience, college officials believe.
Some community college teams have given athletes a shot at a scholarship to a four-year institution or a direct trip to the pros, reports Community College Times.
Nine baseball players from College of Southern Nevada were drafted this year, including 17-year-old Bryce Harper, a first-round draft pick.
Private donations fund the college’s two teams, men’s baseball and women’s softball.