A resolution to eliminate three Gophers sports is on the agenda for next Friday’s meeting of the U’s Board of Regents, setting up a vote on whether to end the men’s track and field, gymnastics and tennis programs after this season.
The resolution was first presented to the Board of Regents at its Sept. 11 meeting, one day after athletic director Mark Coyle announced a plan to cut the three sports. Coyle has said the cuts are necessary because of financial shortfalls — which have increased significantly because of the pandemic — and issues with Title IX compliance.
Now, the resolution is listed as an action item on the meeting agenda, which was released Friday. U President Joan Gabel has recommended approving the cuts. If a simple majority of the 12-member board votes yes, the three sports will be eliminated at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.
If the vote is 6-6, the resolution would not pass. A majority of regents also could decide to delay the vote.
Regent Darrin Rosha said Friday he has not decided how he will vote, and he is uncertain how things might play out.
“Early indications are some members are comfortable moving forward as it is,’’ Rosha said. “I know there are several that have indicated they have significant concerns, and then there’s a group of folks in the middle that are still evaluating the data and taking the feedback.
“I’ve received considerable input from the athletic department. That is in the mix, along with information from members of the community. I know we’re getting close to decision time, but I’m still speaking with my colleagues, still working through questions that I have for the administration and taking in input from the public.’’
Rosha added that public interest in the sports cuts has been “substantially higher than the average matter,’’ generating feedback similar to what the Board of Regents received in the early 1990s when it closed the U’s Waseca campus. He said people who are passionate about Gophers sports have mounted a “full-court press’’ to save the programs.
“Between communication through the board office and my own Regents e-mail, I would estimate I’ve gotten 2,000 communications,’’ Rosha said. “There’s been a lot of information, a lot of input from members of the public and members of the university community.’’