AD Cuts Men's Tennis, 12 Staff Positions

In a move that will save the athletic department an estimated $1 million annually, Mike Bohn announced the end of the Colorado men's tennis program, and the termination of 12 full-time staff positions.

"This is a regrettable, and the last, option that we pursued to create a viable operating budget for fiscal year 2006-07," Bohn said Thursday.

The 2005-06 athletic department budget is $36,051,225. Revenue projected by football is $15.5 million, while fundraising and contributions are expected to account for $9.7 million. However, the department is currently facing an overall deficit of almost $7 million that has accumulated over the first half of this decade.

Several factors account for the deficit, according to Bohn. They include rising tuition costs, which are currently near $7 million and could reach as much as $10 million by the end of the decade.

While the department sold out its football suites during four of the team's six home games last season, and have just three suites available for next season, slower than expected sales of club seats have kept the department from breaking even on annual expenses (including debt service) for the Folsom expansion structure.

The department has seen a 65 percent increase in utility costs over the past year.

Finally, Gary Barnett's contract buyout had roughly a $4 million impact on the department's deficit.

"Even though we increased attendance, albeit slightly, in football and men's basketball and have made great strides in fundraising, we just haven't been able to close the gap," Bohn said. "We are working to correct structural problems in our operation, and these cuts are necessary in an effort to create a more efficient overall athletic program."

The men's tennis team, coached by Sam Winterbotham, will play out the remainder of its spring season. Bohn said the department will help place nine tennis players with eligibility remaining at other programs, if the student-athletes wish.

The men's tennis budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year was $324,975, not including additional costs absorbed by other budgets (sports medicine, academics, equipment, sports information, etc.) that bring the total closer to $350,000. However, all scholarships for those tennis players who choose to remain at CU in lieu of transferring to another institution will be honored.

Bohn said six of the 12 staff positions to be cut are currently vacant position which will not be filled. That means six current full-time staff-members will lose their jobs. Bohn would not comment on which staff they were.

The past two years, the department has made mid-year budget cuts to sports programs ranging from 15 to 25 percent. Bohn said Thursday he didn't want to go that route again. He said the theme in eliminating the tennis program and staff positions to focus resources "deep and narrow rather than water down everyone."

The athletic director, who took over in April after Dick Tharp was fired in November, said he remains committed to balancing the budget, paying down the department's debt while growing programs.

Among the upgrades in the works are a practice bubble on the north practice fields; moving the basketball operations to Coors and upgrading some of the workout facility at Coors; upgrading the locker rooms at Dal Ward and renovating Carlson Gym.

Bohn said although there are staff cuts, no support programs will be cut. Remaining staff will take over extra duties.

The last, and only time, athletic programs were cut came almost 26 years ago. On June 11, 1980, seven sports were eliminated: baseball, wrestling, men's and women's gymnastics, men's and women's swimming and women's diving.

CU will now sponsor the NCAA Division I-A minimum of 16 sports, nine women's (basketball, cross country, golf, indoor track, outdoor track, skiing, soccer, tennis and volleyball) and seven men's (basketball, cross country, football, golf, indoor track, outdoor track and skiing).

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