Winthrop cuts men's, women's tennis, cites pandemic's effects

ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Winthrop is ending its men's and women's tennis programs due to a financial shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Division I school's board of trustees approved the move Friday.

The elimination affects 12 current athletes and seven incoming freshmen or transfers from the two programs combined. The school said all will have their scholarship agreements honored should they stay. If they choose to leave, they will be immediately eligible to compete at their next school.

Winthrop vice president for incollegiate athletics Ken Halpin said the department was "heart-broken" that this decision had to be made. He has reached out to all the affected athletes.

Women's tennis had won 21 Big South Conference championships, including the last four from 2016-19. It had earned 17 berths in the NCAA tournament.

The men's team has won nine Big South regular season titles, its last in 2018.

The school said lost revenue due to COVID-19 plus necessary and substantial upkeep to the Winthrop tennis facility contributed to the decision.

Winthrop joins schools across the country in cutting sports in the wake of the virus. Another South Carolina university, Furman, eliminated its baseball and men's lacrosse teams last month.