STORRS, Conn. – UConn will not rule out eliminating some sports to close a gap of more than $ 40 million in the budget of its athletic department.
The director of athletics, David Benedict, who spoke before Saturday's men's basketball game with Tulane, said there is still a firm belief that UConn has become a nationally renowned university, in part because of its sporting success.
But he said the athletic division should examine how it is structured. He says UConn will look for all opportunities to increase revenue and cut expenses before considering the possibility of practicing a sport.
"There are many sports departments in recent years that have had to do that," said Benedict. "It's probably one of the most difficult things you can do as an athletic director and sports department, we're going to see every opportunity to try to deal with this before that, but sometimes it's inevitable."
In a NCAA financial report released on Thursday, UConn reported that total revenue generated by sports last year totaled $ 40.4 million, while expenses reached $ 80.9 million.
Football lost $ 8.7 million, men's basketball $ 5 million and women's basketball, a perennial power, had expenses that exceeded revenues by more than $ 3 million.
The school, with most of its athletic programs at the American Athletic Conference, struggles to compete fiscally with similar programs at the Power Five, Big Big, Big 12, Atlantic Coast, Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 conferences. .
The school reported receiving $ 7.1 million in funds for the distribution of conferences last year and another $ 1 million in media rights, down from the $ 7.3 million reported in 2017. In comparison, the average school distribution for the SEC it was around $ 41 million and, reportedly, the Big Ten schools received an average of about $ 38.5 million.
Benedict said he believes a new contract for media rights for the AAC, which is currently being negotiated, could help the school "make a dent" in the budget gap.
"We're going to see all the opportunities to try to deal with this before [having to cut sports], but sometimes there are inevitability. "
David Benedict, UConn AD on the elimination of sports to bridge the budget gap
Benedict also said he believes Friday's announcement of self-imposed sanctions in the basketball program, which includes the loss of a scholarship for next season, is an adequate response to the NCAA violations under former coach Kevin Ollie.
Those violations also included: Ollie baskets with a recruit during an unofficial visit to the school, and Ollie organizing inadequate training sessions with a friend who is a personal trainer both on campus and during out-of-state trips that amount to inappropriate gifts.
Ollie, who was fired after a 14-18 season last year, is challenging the school's decision to withhold more than $ 10 million as a result of being fired "for a cause." He has claimed that any violation was minimal and isolated. He has also alleged that his dismissal was partly motivated by racial motives, noting that the violations of former coach Jim Calhoun, who is white, did not lead to Calhoun's dismissal.
Benedict refused to comment on these accusations.
"This is certainly something that we would prefer not to deal with now, but we are going to manage it in the best possible way and move forward," he said.
Benedict also defended the delivery of thousands of dollars in bonuses to the coach of the University of Connecticut football, Randy Edsall and his staff, despite the season 1-11, and said that the basic salaries of coaches are among the lowest of the conference and that has no problems to incentivize the performance.