COVID Cancels University of Minnesota Men’s Track & Field
October 7, 2020
On Sept. 10, 58 student athletes in Stadium Village went quiet as they were possibly looking at their last seasons.
The University of Minnesota released a statement which detailed that three men’s programs would be cut from the budget, which included: men’s gymnastics, men’s tennis and men’s track and field.
Seth Eliason, HHS alumni, is a distance runner for both the Minnesota track and cross country team. To describe this decision as “unprofessional” was an understatement in his mind.
“There was no warning about this potentially happening, and really, it left me and the rest of the team dumbfounded. We found out that we had an important zoom meeting no less than 100 minutes before the news broke, and the coaches only knew 15 minutes before that,” Eliason said.
COVID-19 and the Big Ten’s decision to postpone fall 2020-21 sports has greatly increased Minnesota’s financial concerns. The athletic department is now facing a projected loss of revenue of approximately $75 million in just this fiscal year.
The seasons and scholarships of these programs will continue through the end of the 2020-21 school year, and students will be assisted if they decide to transfer to another school. However, the university can’t compensate for the students who are not yet enrolled.
Sam Duffing, senior, has been a varsity hurdler since his freshman year. He considered running for the U after touring the program.
“I think this sends a message to student athletes that track and field is not as important of a sport in the eyes of some universities, including the University of Minnesota,” Duffing said.
Despite placing third at the Big Ten Indoor Championships back in February, men’s track and field—which reportedly lost $1.84 million—is subsidized by football, which netted $31.2 million from 2018-19.
While it may seem like the end of Eliason’s career, there is an overwhelming amount of support backing the movement to save the team.
As of Sept. 23, a petition on Change.org is just 1,000 signers short of the 25,000 goal, and they have over 2,500 followers between an Instagram and Twitter account that were made to reinstate the team.
“I have hope for the future of our track team here at the U. The history of this program will not be taken away without a fight, and this Minnesota track family will be there every step of the way,” Eliason said.