ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — University of New Mexico regents voted Tuesday in favor of a budget proposal that includes a reduction in sports and other measures as the school’s troubled athletics department looks to get its finances under control.
The 6-1 vote came during a meeting that was packed with concerned alumni, coaches and others. The Albuquerque Journal reports student regent and former Lobo football player Garrett Adcock was the only one on the board to vote against the measure.
While no decisions have been made by Athletic Director Eddie Nunez as to which sports will be on the chopping block, University President Garnett Stokes said she can’t imagine a scenario where the school would not have to cut sports.
“We don’t have other revenue sources to fill that kind of recurring deficit,” she said. “… It’s a really unfortunate place to be.”
The athletics department has failed to balance its roughly $33 million annual operating budget in eight of the past 10 fiscal years. It’s also projecting at least an $800,000 shortfall for the current fiscal year.
UNM sponsors 22 varsity sports. What remained unclear at Tuesday’s meeting was the actual cost of each team.
The regents and the newspaper have both asked the athletics department for a breakdown of the costs and revenues for every sport at UNM. However, Nunez said Tuesday the department can’t provide one yet because of the way the budgets have been compiled internally. He said he’s working on changing that.
Nunez has until July 1 to decide which sports to cut. He has said affected teams will be given at least one year notice.
Men’s Soccer Coach Jeremy Fishbein has said his program is among those being “very seriously” considered for elimination despite its success over the years. The team has played in two Final Fours, one national championship game and has been a conference champion seven times since 2001.
Fishbein helped to mobilize former players, coaches and community leaders who asked regents not to cut any sport until the matter is given more consideration.
Fishbein gave an emotional speech. He said this moment could serve as a wake-up call for community support around all of the university’s Olympic sport programs.
“Let’s make this a starting point,” he said, “not an ending point.”
Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com