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BTP The Offseason, Day 69: ECU among the schools cutting sports amid budget crunch

Timber Wolf (Canis lupus), Engraving, circa 1860 Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Mind you this is well on down the list of shitty things going on right now, but it’s been disheartening to watch schools shut down sports programs in order to cut costs. On Monday alone, Furman announced the discontinuation of men’s lacrosse and baseball, and we learned that East Carolina will soon be cutting at least one sport as well. They are hardly the first to do this and won’t be the last.

But ECU’s predicament seems particularly dire, since its athletics department was already financially strained before the pandemic. The Pirates sponsor 20 different sports and therefore have room to cut several and remain in good standing with the AAC. Via a story from Kate Murphy and Luke DeCock of the N&O:

The minimum number of sponsored sports in the American Athletic Conference is 16 and only Connecticut, which is leaving the conference next season, offers more sports among AAC members. East Carolina ranks seventh in athletic revenue among the 11 conference schools for which numbers were available.

[ECU interim Chancellor] Mitchelson said the timeline on cutting sports was “a matter of days, not a matter of weeks.”

ECU is facing a projected $10 million shortfall even if football season goes off as normal. Among other problems, and in what may prove a cautionary tale in overextending, the press tower with luxury suites that ECU just built at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is now projected to lose millions of dollars over the next 30 years, per the article.

I hate all of this for the Pirates and their fans and wish we could just get back to the simpler times of good, clean, purely sports-on-the-field-related animosity.