Central Michigan can stay at five men's teams for now; new sport required by 2022

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
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The NCAA has approved Central Michigan's request for a temporary waiver to dip under the minimum number of male sports teams required to maintain Division I status.

Central Michigan received word Thursday, in a letter from Troy Arthur, the NCAA's director of academic and membership affairs.

The NCAA's Strategic Vision and Planning Committee reviewed the case, and approved Central's request.

Central Michigan has cut its men's indoor and outdoor track programs.

The waiver covers the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years, at the end of which Central Michigan will have had to finalized a plan to add another men's sport to its roster.

"We'll be looking at what sport will be best for us, to compete and be financially the right move," said Michael Alford, Central Michigan's athletic director.

In mid-March, Central Michigan announced it was eliminating its men's indoor and outdoor track and field programs to save about $300,000 a year in the short-term, and more than $600,000 a year long-term. The university mandated significant budget cuts across the board as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Central Michigan became the first Division I school in the state to take the most extreme measure of eliminating a sports team.

The elimination actually was for two teams, indoor and outdoor track, which dropped Central to the NCAA minimum of 16 sports teams overall, but to five men's teams — one below the minimum requirement to remain Division I.

Alford requested the waiver from the NCAA, which decided this spring not to approve across-the-board relief for sports minimums, but rather address each university on a case-by-case basis as needed. Wright State eliminated three sports this week and, likewise, is seeking a waiver from the NCAA.

Alford said he is looking at three or four possible sports, of which he'll eventually choose one to join the roster of men's teams at Central Michigan. Alford wouldn't identify which sports he's considering, though men's golf, which the school used to have, seems to be a possibility, given its relatively inexpensive, and requires just 4.5 scholarships. The school already has a women's golf program; it plays out of Mt. Pleasant Country Club.

Alford has said there are no considerations to bring back the men's track and field program.

NCAA member institutions have eliminated nearly 100 sports teams since the start of the pandemic, which shut down all sports in mid-March — including the men's basketball tournament, a cancellation that cost Division I schools paydays well into the six figures.

Colleges nationwide have called for cuts to athletic-department budgets, including in Michigan, where most football and basketball coaches, as well as ADs, have taken salary reductions.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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