A hopeful prediction towards CF’s athletic programs

Why we believe CF’s athletic cuts will not continue

In 2019, CF made the challenging decision to cut three of its five athletic programs. The programs cut were the boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball, and volleyball programs.

CF spokeswoman, Lois Brauckmuller, said that “the story was covered extensively by the Patriot Press” at the time of its announcement. You can read about it at https://www.wruf.com/headlines/2019/12/05/college-of-central-florida-to-drop-three-sports/

These cuts unfortunately had to be done. The President of CF, Dr. James Henningsen, said in an update in March 2020 that the money saved in the cuts went to a dental hygiene program. A new Paramedic to RN program was also created with the money saved on these sporting programs.

Henningsen also said at the time of its first announcement that enrollment at the college might be a factor in it. There was a correlation, according to Henningsen, between enrollment and unemployment. He claimed that when the economy is poor and unemployment is up, college attendance goes up. Conversely, unemployment is low, college enrollment is low also. This correlation occurs because unemployment provides more free time for students to enroll in classes.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there had been a decrease in student attendance of over 23 percent since 2010, according to the CF President.

The cuts saved the college an estimated $625,000.

An estimated 42 student athletes were affected by the cuts in these athletic programs.

According to Robert Zelinski, the athletic director at CF, there was not a trend of athletic programs being cut throughout the state of Florida or nationwide when CF made this decision. Around the same time as this was happening, Jacksonville University also cut funding for a football team there.

The positives of the cuts to the athletic programs are that more money is allowed for things of more importance, such as the new Paramedic to RN program and dental hygiene program. Another positive is that a reduction in spending is necessary when unemployment is low in the country, which Henningsen stated as being a reason for the cuts.

On the negative side, however, this has an effect upon the local economy of Marion County. The Facebook group “We Are CF”, in its effort to save the programs, cited that at least 1,000 hotel rooms were purchased by visiting teams every year.

With this being said, we believe it is likely that cuts will not continue because of the positive correlation Henningsen said regarding the number of students enrolled and unemployment rates.

With Covid-19 vaccines becoming more widely available and a return to normal seemingly on the horizon, it may seem like the economy will be headed back to a healthier position. However, we are taking a somewhat bleaker stance on it. We believe that there will be a slower timetable for economic recovery.

Using Henningsen’s logic, however, a poor economy will equate to higher attendance. Thus, if the economy is still decreasing and joblessness perseveres, it is likely that attendance at the school will increase over the next few years.

While it’s unfortunate for the many students affected, the good news is that it does not seem likely to us that there will be more cuts in the future.

While Zelinski is not aware of a possibility of the men’s basketball, women’s basketball, or volleyball programs returning in the near future, it is a hopeful notion that there will not be future cuts to the remaining teams at CF or to colleges elsewhere.

To stay updated on CF’s remaining softball and baseball teams, visit https://thepatriotpresscf.com/category/sports/