Clemson University made an unprecedented move on Thursday, announcing cuts to its men's cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field programs as a means to save $2 million per year across the athletic budget, Clemson Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich wrote in a release.
The move goes into effect in June of 2021. Within an hour of the decision, a petition to save the program popped up on Change.org.
"First and foremost, we understand the disappointment and heartbreak of our student-athletes that comes with this difficult news," Radakovich wrote. "Many of our student-athletes and coaches have worked their entire lives to compete and coach at the Division I level, and this is certainly an emotional day for them. We appreciate their hard work, effort and pride in representing Clemson University."
The announcement comes just hours after William & Mary College, which had originally cut men's indoor and outdoor track and field in September, reinstated two of its men's programs.
With a projected budget shortfall of $25 million in 2020 for the athletic department, Radakovich cited "significant financial challenges due to the ongoing pandemic," as one reason for the move. That $2 million savings will "be reinvested into other athletic department initiatives."
Clemson's decision is not new.
But it is surprising given the amount of reversals by various athletic administrators in recent months.
In September, the University of Minnesota set to eliminate both its men's indoor and outdoor track and field teams only to reinstate the outdoor program weeks later after upheaval from the track and field community.
Previously, in June, Brown University made a complete reversal, too, reinstating all three men's programs after cutting them following an 'Excellence in Browns Athletics Initiative' on May 28.
Since April, programs have tightened pursed strings and made tough decisions: Akron lost its men's cross country team; Central Michigan cut its indoor and outdoor track and field program; Florida International said goodbye to indoor track; and Appalachian State ax indoor track and field.
More to come on this story.