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Fresno State announces it's cutting wrestling, lacrosse and men's tennis

Fresno State announces it's cutting wrestling, lacrosse and men's tennis

  • Updated

Fresno State announced Friday that it is making major changes to its athletic programs amid budget shortfalls exacerbated by the COVID-19 panemic. 

"In response to ongoing financial challenges for Fresno State Athletics, whose revenues have been dramatically impacted this fiscal year by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fresno State announced today its decision to implement program reductions that will ensure long-term financial sustainability of its athletics program," the school said in a statement Friday.

Following the current 2020-21 academic year, the school said, it will discontinue supporting varsity lacrosse, men's tennis and wrestling. Fresno State said those cuts will save about $2.5 million, "once all scholarships and other contractual obligations have been fulfilled."

The move ends a disappointingly short run for the Bulldog wrestling program, which was cut in 2006 and revived in 2017. 

Following the reduction, Fresno State will sponsor 18 NCAA Division I sports (six men's sports and 12 women's sports). The school says it will support approximately 430 student-athletes through those 18 programs, while also "ensuring the University's ongoing commitment to gender equity."

"Today's decision is difficult for everyone and yet it is a necessary step to ensure the financial viability of our Athletics Department," President Joseph I. Castro said in the school's release. "We appreciate those who have supported these Bulldogs programs over the years, including coaches, current and former student-athletes, and their families."

The school said it is expecting the operating deficit for athletics this fiscal year to run about $6.6 million due to the pandemic and its impact on the sports teams' competitive seasons and "the related result of not being able to have fans in its venues."

The school says its usual operating deficit runs at about $2.2 million annually. 

"This is an incredibly difficult day for our entire Bulldog Family and one of the most challenging days of my career," athletic director Terry Tumey said in the statement. "Our mission is to holistically serve all of our student-athletes and prepare them for transformative success in competition and, more importantly, in the classroom and in life. So it is with great sadness and heavy hearts that this difficult decision was made."

The school said it will still honor and provide financial assistance for the affected student-athletes who wish to remain at Fresno State.

"Fresno State Athletics will continue to provide support services to both the students who wish to remain at Fresno State to complete their degree or to the ones who wish to transfer to another institution," the school's statement read.

Per NCAA rules, student-athletes who choose to transfer will be immediately eligible at their next institution, Fresno State said, adding, "Contractual commitments to the coaches from the affected programs will be honored within the terms and conditions stated in their employment contracts."

"With these reductions, the future of our overall athletics endeavor becomes more fiscally solvent and in better alignment with our conference and competitive peers," Tumey said. "In order for us to fulfill our mission of preparing the future leaders of our Valley community, responsible action had to be taken at this time despite how emotionally difficult it is for our students.

"Fresno State Athletics has always been known for our determination, resilience and character, and in this pivotal moment in our athletics history, we must come together now more than ever."

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