Intercollegiate Athletics:

Four-Year Colleges' Experiences Adding and Discontinuing Teams

GAO-01-297: Published: Mar 8, 2001. Publicly Released: Mar 8, 2001.

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Marlene S. Shaul
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The number of women participating in intercollegiate athletics at four-year colleges and universities increased substantially between school years 1981-82 and 1998-99, while the number of men participating increased more modestly. The total number of women's teams increased by 3,784 teams, compared to an increase of 36 men's teams. In all, 963 schools added teams and 307 discontinued teams since 1992-93. The two factors cited most often as greatly influencing the decision to add or discontinue teams were the need to address student interest in particular sports and the need to meet gender equity goals and requirements. Schools that discontinued men's teams also found the need to reallocate the athletic budget to other sports. Colleges and universities that discontinued a team typically took three months or less between originating the proposal and making the final decision. Most schools informed members of the campus community of the possibility that the team would be discontinued, and most held meetings with campus groups before making the final decision. Most schools offered to help affected athletes transfer to other schools, and students receiving athletics-related financial aid continued to receive financial aid for at least some period after the team was disbanded. Schools that were able to add one or more teams without discontinuing others used various strategies to increase athletic program revenue and contain costs. Some schools relied on the institution's general fund, while others used private sources and athletic facility rental fees.

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