Gopher athletes impacted by cuts react to 'heartbreaking' announcement

A University of Minnesota logo hangs outside the tennis courts. The athletic director announced the men's tennis team is among those on the chopping block amid financial concerns. (FOX 9)

University of Minnesota student-athletes on the men’s track, tennis, and gymnastics teams are reacting to the news their programs will be cut at the end of the 2020 – 2021 season. For many, the opportunity they have been working their whole lives to be a part of could be ending.

Athletic Director Mark Coyle made the announcement Thursday, saying the cuts come due to a projected $75 million loss of revenue due to the postponement of the fall sports season. The Board of Regents will make the final approval.

“I honestly don’t even know what to think yet,” said Marquez Clerveaux, a sophomore on the men’s track and field team. “I’m still like digesting everything and just figuring it out.”

Clerveaux says he doesn’t know what will come next. He and his teammates are still shocked by the news.

“You kind of have the next three four years all planned out and set in stone and now you have to reevaluate every decision you made,” said Jade Reicks, a sophomore on the track and field team.

“I would have never expected the program to be over and it be no more,” said Luke Pingel, a freshman on the men’s track and field team.

For those who grew up in the Twin Cities, like sophomore gymnast Andrew Hyde, the loss of this program shatters the dreams of young gymnasts who also dreamed of becoming Gophers.

“Ever since I was a little kid I came to meets here, I love watching the team, always wanted to be a part of this team,” said Hyde. “I want that to be possible for younger kids growing up around here because I know there are plenty.”

“I put my faith and my trust in to the Minnesota program and it’s just heartbreaking to know that they were able to let us down,” said Michael Moran, a junior on the gymnastics team.

Moran, who came to the U of M from New Jersey, says while some athletes may consider transferring to a school that still has these programs, it won’t be easy.

“At this point any solution that’s left is going to be so drastic because with all of the programs being cut across the country there’s no space for everyone to go other schools,” said Moran.

The athletes are still scheduled to have seasons this year, but all of that is still up in the air due to COVID-19. It’s possible they may end their careers in these sports without any closure or will have to decide whether or not to try transfer to a different program. According to the athletic director, scholarships will be honored for those who choose to continue their education at Minnesota.