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Harvard Reduces Sports Travel as Ivys Cut Athletics to ‘Core’
Dartmouth College, where former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was an All Ivy football player in the 1960s, has scrapped a $15 million stadium renovation project as its sports endowment plunged as much as 18 percent.
Harvard University, the wealthiest U.S. school, shuttered its Malkin Athletic Center to save money and cut its sports travel budget. Brown University in Rhode Island is calling on private donors to fund sports projects. Construction and hiring freezes are in place at Cornell University.
The deepest recession in five decades may leave the Ivy League behind on the field. The economy is choking donations, battering endowments and threatening to eliminate some sports programs. The eight schools, which have educated 14 U.S. presidents and half of the 110 justices in Supreme Court history, have estimated endowment losses of as much as 35 percent this year.
“If we had to experience another round of serious reductions. . .cutting programs would have to be in the discussion,” Bob Ceplikas, 53, interim athletic director at Dartmouth, said in an interview. “The kind of reductions we’ve made so far have stripped things down to the core.”
Dartmouth, in Hanover, New Hampshire, has halted its project to replace the press box and rebuild 7,000 seats on the west side of 90-year-old Memorial Field.
The Big Green also cut $500,000 from their $16 million budget, eliminated two positions, reduced fitness center hours and say the $2 million they usually receive from annual fundraising has dropped 10 percent to 15 percent.
At Brown, athletic director Michael Goldberger said that before he can replace an employee, he must make a case for the hire in front of a university committee.
He’s left two positions vacant, and needs private donors to pay for projects the school can’t fund. He’s currently using money donated “a long time ago” to make repairs to the Bears’ field hockey turf at the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center.
“We’re still up in the air with what we can finish,” Goldberger said. “There is constant need for renovation and upgrade. For fiscal year 2011, we’ll have a whole new set of challenges, I’m sure.”
Cornell athletic director Andy Noel said the Big Red, based in Ithaca, New York, have cut their budget, put a freeze on construction and aren’t hiring.
“This is a serious challenge,” he said. “It’s not an around-the-fringes kind of thing. For the past decade, we’ve been reducing around the edges.”
Noel, who wouldn’t say what programs the school is paring back to reduce costs, said it’s doubtful the Ivys will be saved by some last-minute ingenuity.
“Our universities have been generating new, creative revenue streams for a while,” Noel said. “We’re not going to launch something new and different and money-generating now that we didn’t think of last year.”
At Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sports travel budgets were reduced and the school closed the Malkin Athletic Center during most of the summer, according to a May 11 news release.
Harvard athletic director Robert Scalise, 58, declined to be interviewed.
The sports budget at Columbia University in New York was cut too, prompting athletic director M. Dianne Murphy to ask coaches to be entrepreneurial in finding new revenue.
“It has been a challenging year,” Murphy said in an e- mail. “Given the current state of the economy, we still anticipate that we may have more challenges ahead.”
She said the school exceeded its fundraising goals the fiscal year ended June 30 and is still committed to a $100 million fundraising campaign that started in October 2007. She didn’t say how much was raised.
The Ivy League itself, whose office is in Princeton, New Jersey, is making electronic versions of its media guides, which give details about the team and players, to save money. It also replaced the annual football media day, where writers mingle with coaches, at the start of the season with a teleconference, according to spokesman Scottie Rodgers, who didn’t provide the amount that would be saved.
Some Ivy League schools have been able to move ahead with projects because funds were raised before the recession took hold.
Princeton University opened Roberts Stadium for soccer and installed field turf and a video board in its football stadium, Powers Field, before the recession.
Under the Wire
“You can say we’ve gotten some projects in under the wire,” said Mike Cross, 41, the executive associate athletic director who maintains a Web site on athletic budget cuts at ultimatesportsinsider.com. Additional practice fields are scheduled to be installed at Powers Field.
The school is seeking to replace the Lenz Tennis Center, though that will depend on donors. Cross wouldn’t say how much is needed to complete the projects.
The University of Pennsylvania athletic department raised $80 million toward a 7-year, $112 million athletics fundraising goal and is moving forward with construction at Franklin Field in Philadelphia that includes a weight-training facility and a fitness center.
Fundraising for the next phase – which includes renovating the Palestra basketball arena – is “beginning to run into some resistance due to the economic conditions,” said athletic director Steve Bilsky.
“The last $30 million will probably be as difficult as raising the first $80 million,” he said.
At Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, the school is adding 13,000 square feet of space to Ingalls (Ice) Rink for new locker rooms, training areas, offices and meeting space. It’s also completing a three-story renovation of the Yale Bowl’s Kenney Family Field Center.
“We were fortunate to have been able to complete these facilities before the budget reductions,” athletic director Tom Beckett said in an interview. “Now, like everyone else, we are investigating ways of reducing costs.”
Yale within the past year started requiring the athletic department to raise 100 percent of the funding on any new projects before they will be approved.
The department has 80 percent of the money needed to renovate the Reese Stadium grandstand – home to men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse teams – with a new team room and media space, Beckett said.
“It’s a tough time, there is no question about it,” Beckett said.
Harvard Reduces Sports Travel as Ivys Cut Athletics to ‘Core’
By Curtis Eichelberger, Bloomberg.net