Why They Were Cut
More Female Sports, Flat Budget Are CauseBy Dana Levine
The recent controversial cuts of sub-varsity sports teams and reductions in the sizes of existing varsity teams were due to the addition of two new female varsity sports and a flat budget, administrators say.
Dean for Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams attributes a large part of the recent changes in the Athletics Department to the transition from male-dominated sports to a more evenly balanced program. The Athletics budget is drawn from the Office of the Dean for Students and Undergraduate Education line item in MIT’s budget.
“There has been a long history of increasing pressures on the Athletics Department for a wider range of sports,” said Williams, a dean in ODSUE. This year, the Athletics Department created two new female varsity teams: ice hockey and indoor track.
While MIT in the past could afford to field every team that was desired, Williams stated that this is no longer financially possible.
“We offer more now, and we are proud of that, but we can’t offer everything,” said Williams. The Athletics Department, which along with the rest of the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate of Education (ODSUE) has been on a flat budget for several years, was forced to cut programs to add the new teams while not running over budget.
While the Athletics department has not received a budgetary increase in ten years, this is fiscally similar to the policy of the rest of MIT. “We are treated the same as the rest of the Institute by and large,” said Athletics Department Manager of Administration Richard L. Brewer.
In a year of flat budget, the non-administrative budget for a department does not increase. While personnel are given an annual raise which is relatively constant throughout the institute, the budget for materials and services stays the same as in the previous year.
“When there is a flat-budget directive, then we will adhere to that,” said Brewer. In order to achieve that this year, the Athletics Department needed to reduce team sizes.
“The Institute has been level-budgeted since I arrived in 1995,” said Williams. According to Williams, a given department of MIT will only receive a budgetary increase in the case of extenuating circumstances.
The Athletics Department’s budget is also influenced by how much must be spent on capital investments. While some of that money comes from donations to the Institute, much of it must be drawn from the Athletics budget.
The recently installed omniturf field cost the Athletics Department $1.6 million, reducing the available capital for the rest of the department.
Although the Athletics Department’s project to build a new athletics complex has been put on a somewhat delayed time line, Williams described the commitment from MIT towards building the new facility as “absolutely firm” and stated that it “has not wavered,” despite financial constraints.
In response to an insufficient Athletic Department allocation by ODSUE, Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow ’72 supplemented the athletics department with a large portion of his own discretionary budget.
Williams does, however, recognize the need for additional funding for the Athletics Department. “We need to get a new funding model, one that is higher and very stable,” Williams said.
However, Williams did state that the Athletics Department would only receive a moderate increase when it receives its increase. “We have to draw some limits somewhere,” said Williams.
While Williams mentioned the 41 varsity sports which MIT offers, she noted that MIT’s Athletic Department does not yield a profit. “Unlike other schools, we do not make money on our athletic investments,” said Williams.