Friday, July 10, 2020

Despite Cancellation, Wimbledon Announces Prize Money Distribution; SoCal Cancels Sectional Championships; Coaches Weigh in on Saving Collegiate Programs

Wimbledon announced this morning that it would be distributing 10 million pounds to those players who would have earned entry into this year's event, despite its cancellation. The fact that Wimbledon had pandemic coverage in its insurance policy was no doubt a factor in their decision, but their generosity is admirable regardless.  They had already contributed to the tennis-wide fund announced earlier to distribute funds to players who have been unable to compete during this time, but however appreciated that contribution was, this will be welcome too, given how long the break has been.  It also should be noted that they are providing funds to officials that would have worked the tournament, including those who traveled from outside Great Britain.

Below is the breakdown of the amounts; the British pound is currently worth around $1.26 US.
See Wimbledon.com for the full release.

USTA Southern California was one of the few sections to forge ahead with its sectional event this summer, but today it announced they would not be holding the tournament, which had been previously rescheduled to July 25.  From the release:

However, the alarming increase in recent COVID-19 cases throughout our region has prompted municipalities to enact mandatory limitations on large gatherings, and in some cases, youth sports, which in turn impacted the facilities that were scheduled to host the 2020 Junior Sectional Championships.

A new date for Junior Sectionals will be considered later in 2020, if possible.

Southern California is hardly the only part of the country experiencing an "alarming increase" in Covid-19 cases and with the Girls 18s Nationals in Southern California, the Boys 18s in Florida, the Boys 16s in Mobile and the Girls 16s in Georgia, the status of those events is obviously very much at risk. The entry deadline for those four tournaments in July 16th. I would expect a decision on whether they will go ahead will be released before then.

As far as I know, USTA Southern is now the only section still planning on a Sectional Closed event this summer. The dates for those, at various venues, is July 30-August 5. 

It's been a quiet week as far as college tennis program cuts go, which is good news, although the pressure to slash budgets is increasing by the day, with the prospect of college football this fall looking less likely by the minute. Dartmouth announced it was dropping five sports, effective immediately:  men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's golf, and men's lightweight rowing. This comes a month after Brown dropped 11 sports, but also kept tennis. And Wednesday's decision by Stanford to cut 11 sports is even more worrisome.

The Tennis Recruiting Network asked seven coaches from Divisions I, II and III to weigh in on why tennis programs are important and how to go about keeping programs from being cut. Many stated how important it is to have the community invested in the program, and making the school's facility a center of tennis for everyone who is interested in the playing the sport, not just college students or alumni. This is definitely an area in need of improvement in most college towns and I hope all coaches heed that advice.


Max Ho said...

It seems to me that many non revenue college sports are going to have to reinvent themselves, here are a few suggestions that I have:
Cut scholarships - non revenue sports truly should have student athletes and the school would benefit from partial tuition from each student. The fact that women's tennis has 8 full scholarships for 6 singles spots is absurd (as is 12 women's LAX, 12 for field hockey...). This would also cut down on foreign interest in NCAA tennis because of expense for foreign student fee's. This is also partly a title 9 issue.

Make play more regional schedule - Power 5 football and basketball conferences have made non revenue sports more expensive due to travel. Rutgers plays in Big 10 so they have to travel to Midwest, Syracuse in ACC so they travel to play conference matches in Florida and North Carolina... California schools could stay in state with all the quality schools. Non revenue sports could have much less travel with bus trips for most schools and would also miss way less class as well as spending less money.

Other ideas are not overspending on new facilities, renting out facilities to community, self funding program through donors...

You are better off with scaled down NCAA tennis then more cuts in my opinion.

wcb said...

I agree - I do wish they would try to go the route of scaled down tennis programs vs eliminating them (at least as a first step).

I am following some of these cuts closely and it seems like another major determinant is the state of the facilities. When Dartmouth announced it was shutting its golf program it mentioned that its golf club was losing $1m a year. I think some programs have antiquated swimming pools or old tennis courts - which they may view would need to be enhanced to be a competitive program.

I did see that UConn when they cut their tennis program only spent like $279k, which seemed pretty bare bones. Some other figures I have seen for other programs have been in the $600-800k range.

SeminoleG said...

@MaxHo - you miss the point of Title IX. Even with reduced Revenues you have to Match the Spending on Womens Sports so Cutting Scholarships isn't going to be a factor. Travel expenses will get you minimal savings and honestly the Campus spending on facilities is the issue. Foreign interest in Tennis or ANY college sport is only fed by the schools recruiting these athletes. Seems some schools and sports do well with US kids.
My view is if Football takes a 15% revenue hit (just example) you don't have to cut 15% from just sports, why not level that across the university?
Don't get caught in this trap of Cutting Sports when they are still building a 3rd Library! They have choices and honestly many university investments return title to no revenue. Outside of adding a Medical School or another discipline (maybe on campus housing also) the steady Increase in Sports revenues never led to a steady increase in Sports spending. So why should it work the opposite way now?