The University of New Mexico’s troubled Athletic Department will be forced to pay millions of dollars back to the university. To do that, they’re going to have to cut teams.
Tuesday afternoon, the department presented a 2019 budget proposal, but the Board of Regents still had problems with it.
UNM Athletics has 22 teams. Other schools in the division average around 17, meaning UNM could be looking at cutting five teams in all.
The university president says the Athletic Department is going to have to start thinking realistically about how many programs UNM can support.
“We are better off supporting fewer sports, but doing it well than we are stretching ourselves too thin,” UNM President Garnett Stokes said.
Right now the Athletic Department owes the school $4.7 million — money it’s borrowed in recent years to stay afloat due to lower than expected revenues and payouts for coaches.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Stokes called the cuts inevitable.
“The plan we are presenting includes major cuts to operations within athletics, most of which won’t be realized until fiscal year 2020,” she said. “My goal, in the long run, is to have athletics earn the respect and support of our faculty, staff, students and the community.”
In the proposed budget outlined Tuesday, the Athletic Department says it will pay around $487,000 a year to settle the debt.
The Athletic Department says it will cut more than $3 million a year for those debt payments and so it won’t have to keep borrowing money from the school.
About $2 million of those cuts would come from axing sports teams.
“At this point, we owe it to everyone to look at everything from basketball to football to baseball,” Athletic Director Eddie Nunez said.
He said when those conversations start to happen, everyone will be included.
“I think the big factor is they’re going to have a voice,” Nunez said. “Every student athlete will have a voice and we’re going to take everything into account.”
Stoke said the Athletic Department has until July 1 to figure out which teams it’s cutting.
Regents want a detailed breakdown of the costs for each sport by Saturday before signing off on any of those cuts.
Any teams that end up being dropped will still play out their season’s next school year.