In an effort to reduce the Athletic Department’s projected $2.4 million deficit, Florida A&M University will cut the men’s tennis and men’s cross country teams in June 2020.
President Larry Robinson released a statement via email on November first, explaining how his administration reached the decision to dismiss the two sports programs.
“My team and I are committed to taking all necessary steps to eliminate the Athletics program’s deficit in the current fiscal year and maintaining a sustainable and successful program. The elimination of two athletic programs (men’s tennis and men’s cross country) effective June 2020 is part of a comprehensive strategy to resolve this persistent issue,” Robinson said.
The statement did not include how long the defunct teams will be gone or how much cutting the two teams will actually save the university.
This is not the first time FAMU has cut athletic programs in an attempt to balance the athletic budget. The men’s tennis team has been on the chopping block once in 2005 and again in 2014.
Hema Hasona, a spring 2019 chemistry graduate and team member of the 2017 FAMU men’s tennis team that brought a Middle Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) championship back to FAMU, feels that eliminating the two sports teams will not solve FAMU athletic’s money problems.
“I understand that the two teams don’t generate as much money as basketball or football, but those two teams (tennis and cross country) don’t add up to the $800,000 deficit they are trying to fix. It would make more of a difference if they could eliminate a much larger team, for a shorter amount of time. But they know can’t cut larger teams without having a larger flashback, so it’s easier to target a tennis team,” Hasona said.
Hasona also believes that this decision isn’t the best for FAMU athletics from an academic standpoint.
“Why are the smallest teams being picked at when they are the most successful and raise the athletics GPA? The tennis team had the highest GPA for five or six years while I was there, and cross country was right behind us. You are looking to have an athletics department that focuses thriving athletically and academically,” Hasona said.
FAMU Athletic Director John Eason, and Cross Country head coach Skye Johnson did not respond to multiple attempts for comment.