Supporters of 3 men's sports cut by U of M renew push to save them

Supporters of the University of Minnesota athletic programs cut last year are making a renewed push for the Board of Regents to reconsider.

Several people showed up to the Board of Regent’s meeting Wednesday advocating for Men’s Tennis, Track and Field and Gymnastics to make a comeback. 

It was part of the latest push from the group to find a way to reinstate programs cut during the pandemic. They are mimicking similar efforts made by other schools that also made cuts. Stanford, for example, will now continue 11 sports programs the university had previously cut last year thanks to private fundraising. 

In Minnesota, advocates are hoping to at least start a conversation centered on creative funding. 

Supporters of the cut programs left the meeting frustrated, including Men’s Gymnastics Coach Mike Burns, who is now out of a job after the team was cut in October. 

"Why not take a look at self-funding models that have been presented," said Burns. "Why not look at alumni donations differently? Why not look at people who have passion and desire? Why not give them opportunity to see that happen?"

The group found renewed momentum to look for funding options, mindful of the $170 million budget shortfall the University weathered during the pandemic, but also pointing to the Regents’ approval of a resolution last week allowing the University to take up to a $50 million loan to cover athletic department revenue losses. 

Gymnast Shane Wiskus and Track and Field athlete Kion Benjamin are headed to the Olympics, adding to supporters’ consternation. 

The Board of Regents encouraged the group to reach out to their office to try and get on the September agenda, noting today’s meeting was "jam packed." 

The group advocating to reinstate the sports says they will be back.