Millersville University’s first concern is always with our 8,700 students. We want to make sure that we give them a quality university experience. Faced with the prospect of continued, deep budget cuts imposed by the Commonwealth’s economic conditions, the University was forced this year to make painful decisions regarding the athletics program. During the past few years Millersville University reduced its budget by $15.5 million by eliminating or freezing more than 124 faculty and staff positions. In addition, other measures were taken including a 50% decrease in the repair and renovation budgets and deep cuts to the instructional equipment budget. Those reductions meant, for example, that for each of the past two years 18 full-time faculty positions were not filled which is equivalent to 144 sections of three-credit courses or science laboratories. Simply put, these cuts went to the core of the academic mission of the University.
From 2003-08 the University made a $6 million investment in athletics, including construction of the Carpenter Trout Athletic Training Center, major renovations to the Pucillo pool, softball field, new office areas for coaching staff and major renovations to Biemesderfer Stadium that included an all-purpose field and locker rooms. We also increased efforts to raise private scholarship dollars for student athletes. The first significant cut to athletics was $200,000, announced February 14th. That cut came following more than 18 months of careful deliberation and after the Governor announced a proposed 20% funding reduction for 2012-13 for all 14 State System universities. Key alumni, athletics donors and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), were contacted prior to the announcement. After discussion and thoughtful consideration of the proposed reduction of sports teams by senior management (the Cabinet), there was unified support of the decision to eliminate the men’s’ track and field/cross country teams. The decision was made on the basis that the University could not continue to support 22 sports, especially with ongoing budget threats. The Cabinet does not nor is it required to take formal votes on any management decision.
A private donor interested in reinstating the men’s teams made a generous offer of $300,000, which the University had to reluctantly decline. $300,000 over three years, or even all at once, is a short-term solution that would simply delay the problems for a year. The University’s focus is on overall budget relief to address issues facing the University as a whole, not just the athletics program. While we hope that more classes and athletic programs are not cut, budgets are still threatened. We’re still dealing with the 2011 announcement when the Governor informed the State System that 5% of its current operating budget would be frozen in anticipation of an expected decline in state revenues.
We have encouraged the track and field and cross country students to join our strong intramural/club sports program that offers students competitive experiences against many highly regarded schools. To our knowledge no one has explored this as an option.