Sports Reduction Leaves WVU at Bottom of Big East

West Virginia's move to drop five sports leaves the Mountaineers at the bottom of the Big East Conference.

With the cuts, West Virginia is now last among the Division 1 football playing members of the Big East conference in terms of number of sports offered, with just 16 varsity sports on the list. That calculation includes both outgoing conference member Temple and incoming Connecticut.

According to the NCAA website, the numbers of sports sponsored by each Big East footblal playing school are:

Boston College - 28
Connecticut - 24
Miami - 17
Pittsburgh - 19
Rutgers - 28
Syracuse - 20
Temple - 21
Virginia Tech - 21

This doesn't mean, of course, that WVU's athletics program is inferior to those other schools. Quantity doesn't necessarily equal quantity. However, being at the bottom of the heap doesn't bode well for a school that shold be doing everything it can to attract enrollees.

The numbers are even worse when viewed against the other Big East conference schools that don't play Division 1 football. These schools fall into three groups - those that play 1AA football, those that don't play football at all, and of course, Notre Dame. The total sports offernings of these schools are as follows:

1AA Football

Villanova - 24
St. John's - 21
Georgetown - 23

No Football

Seton Hall - 17
Providence - 19

Non-Big East D1 Football

Notre Dame - 26

Although those numbers may be a bit troubling, this one is even worse. As of next fall, West Virginia will be at the minimum number of sports to maintain eligibility as a Division 1-A football playing school. According to the NCAA, an insituiton that plays Division 1-A football must sponsor a minimum of 16 varsity intercollegiate sports, including football, in order to remain a Division 1 member.

In other words, future budget problems don't leave much room for reductions. If another crisis of this magnitude occurs, WVU would have an array of difficult choices. They would include:

a) across the board budget cuts,
b) drop to Division 1-AA in football or Division II across the board in athletics, or
c) revise their self-imposed "self-sufficiency" status and use state monies for athletics.

Athletic Director Ed Pastilong stressed that WVU's athletic department is still o.k. financially, but what will happen if another 10% across the board budget cut appears again in a couple of years?

While this move may address West Virginia's short term problems, it leave the athletic program with little maneuvering room to address future budget problems.

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