Olympic College Sports on the Path to Extinction

College Olympic sports have seen a very dangerous decline in recent years. This is mostly going to affect American success in the Olympics in years to come. College programs have seen cuts in budgets, which have led to the lack of scholarships and the eventual end of programs.

College sports, that eventually lead to Olympic competition, don’t have the money to support themselves. Major sports programs, such as football and basketball, take most of the money handed out by the heads of universities. While football gets an average of 85 scholarships and basketball gets 12 scholarships, swimming and other Olympic sports only receive around six scholarships, the bare minimum.

Wrestling, in the past 35 years, has cut its number of programs in half. Men’s gymnastics only has 16 remaining programs in the nation. Swimming has also taken a hit when it comes to programs being cut.

In an article by Pat Forde, he quoted the USOC CEO as saying “that 65 percent of America’s London Olympics team was comprised of athletes who trained in college.”

Football and basketball never get cut because of the revenue they make. The more they make, the more that goes right back into them. Swimming, gymnastics, and wrestling are non-revenue sports.

These sports only get money from sponsorship, donors, and very little money from the revenue making sports. It’s hard for them to make money when there are very little programs.

Men’s gymnastics has been cut 75 percent. Swimming has been dropped by nearly 50 schools. Track programs are also at risk.

Revenue making sports spend about $2 million to $3 million on full scholarships, which covers four years of education, meal plans, health care, room and board, books, and any other school related expenses. That is enough to manage two or three Olympic sports programs.

There have been talks about fixing the current situation. The CEO of the USOC suggested sponsoring national championships for several of the sports and opening possibilities for people to make donations to fund coaches, teams, and scholarships.

He doesn’t want to directly support the sports. He’s already found someone willing to put up a $5 million donation but only if a system that’s compatible with both parties can be created. They’ve also discussed lowering the number of Division I programs that schools have to support.

The current minimum is 14, and six of them have to be men’s programs. USA swimming extended a three-year, $375,000 grant for coaches  to help support the cause. Programs have brought up the idea of moving their national championships later in the year so they aren’t overshadowed by basketball and football.

Right now, college Olympic sports are in a downhill spiral. They are at risk and their greatest threat is themselves because they are fighting against each other to be productive in the cause.

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Categories: National