Nevada will be joining the Mountain West in 2012, but thanks to some budget cuts the school's athletics department is facing, it's possible that the school may no longer be a Division I program by the time 2012 gets here. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, athletic director Cary Groth announced that the school is facing a $1.5 million cut in state-appropriated funds that could "change the face of the department."
The cuts, which are part of a proposed $59 million university-wide budget reduction at UNR, could threaten Nevada's ability to maintain Division I status or force the department to cut another sport. The reduction is contingent on the state legislature's final higher education budget and board of regents deliberations.
"I would say maintaining the integrity of a Division I program is our main focus right now," Groth said. "We're right on the line of a few things as is."
In the past three years, the Wolf Pack's state-appropriated funds have decreased from $7.054 million to an estimated $3.817 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
To put that cut in perspective, Nevada's annual budget for its athletic department is $20 million, so it's a 7.5% reduction in the schools' budget. The easiest way for Nevada to find some extra money, aside from cuts to the athletic department staff, would be to reduce scholarships or cut sports. There are problems with that plan, though. First off, the school already cut its ski team in 2010, and it's at the Division I minimum of six men's sports already. Which means that whatever sport was cut, it would have to be one of the eight women's teams, which would cause a problem with Title IX.
As for scholarships, in order to maintain Division I status, a school must award $4 million annually in scholarships. Nevada currently hands out $4.6 million, and while that leaves $600,000 of wiggle room, Groth said she doesn't want to get too close to the minimum.
Hopefully a move to the Mountain West would help bring more money to Nevada's athletic department, but the Wolf Pack has to get there first.