East Carolina became the latest school to make cuts to athletic programs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, eliminating men's and women's swimming and diving and men's and women's tennis.
In an announcement Thursday, the school said the move would impact 68 student-athletes. The elimination of the programs, in addition to cuts in operations, limits to summer school opportunities for student-athletes and regionalized scheduling, will save $4.9 million.
East Carolina, which has one of the lowest athletic budgets in the American Athletic Conference, faced a $7.5 million deficit this fiscal year. The pandemic increased that deficit to around $10.2 million, forcing difficult decisions to cut costs.
"The current athletics budget was not sustainable pre-COVID-19 and the university was working closely with athletics to decrease the annual deficit over the next year," interim chancellor Ron Mitchelson said in a statement. "With the pandemic, the deficit began to grow significantly where the impact was immediate and will affect future revenue and expenses for years to come. Ultimately, the reduction of sports aligns ECU with our American Athletic Conference peers and provides a road map to a more sustainable future for the University and athletics."
The university will honor all scholarships for those student-athletes who want to continue their studies at East Carolina and will complete their degree in four years.
East Carolina athletic director Jon Gilbert told ESPN earlier this month that he was already planning to take a reduction in his salary.
"We're going to have to make some really difficult decisions from a revenue standpoint, and I can't look people in the eye and tell them that we're going to have to cut in this area or that area and I'm not playing a part of that," Gilbert said.
Information from ESPN's Chris Low was used in this report.