TAMPA, Fla. - A growing number of college sports programs around the country have become casualties to the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 100 teams have been cut -- from Division I to NAIA schools.
So far, Florida universities haven't been hit hard.
The University of Tampa has a rich and successful history with sports. The Spartans have won 18 Division II National Championships in various sports including eight baseball titles. While UT isn't insulated from the financial crisis that universities are facing now, cutting a sports program is not even in consideration.
"Fortunately, at the University of Tampa we've not chosen to go that route," UT Athletic Director Larry Marfise told FOX 13 Sports. "We have a president that has a great deal of insight and foresight. He really feels that we need these opportunities."
Universities are bracing for at least a 20% drop in enrollment, which means millions in lost revenue. Marfise said they have a plan to reduce costs.
"We've reduced the number of contests we're going to play next year," he explained. "The sport of baseball, we can play up to 50 games. Next year we're only going to play up to 40."
The University of Texas led all schools in sports revenue in 2018, hauling in $219 million; 70% of which was generated by the football program. The University of Tampa netted a profit from sports just under $200,000, which is why a majority of its expenses have to be covered by tuition.
For small schools, it's not about making money from sports. It's about the other benefits sports bring with them.
"Not all the learning is done in the classroom," said Marfise. "We think there are lots of other ways to get that learning experience and none better than athletics."
So the good news is that all of the Spartans sports programs will remain intact. However, these programs have been indirectly impacted by the coronavirus. Student-athletes will return sometime this summer and when they do, there's a plan in place with specific protocols.
"We're obviously going to practice social-distancing," said Marfise. "We are going to use masks as much as possible. We're testing every student when they come back."
UT will delay the start of fall classes by just one week, but there's no doubt that all of their sports programs will be in action this fall.