Men’s Olympic sports may be on the chopping block due to the NCAA’s current lawsuits, Big 12 commissioner and U.S. Olympic Committee board member Bob Bowlsby said Monday.
“We certainly are operating in a strange environment in that we have the lawsuits that I mentioned earlier, plus we have the O’Bannon lawsuit,” Bowlsby told reporters. “I think you’ll see men’s Olympic sports go away as a result of the new funding challenges that are coming down the pike. I think there may be tension among and between sports on campus and institutions that have different resources.”
Bowlsby, 62, has been on the USOC Board of Directors since 2007.
“In my role as a member of the United States Olympic Committee board, we’ve had this discussion [cutting sports],” Bowlsby said. “Because about 85 percent of American Summer Olympians come through collegiate programs*. And if track programs and wrestling programs and swimming programs begin to go away, there will be significant damage to our international efforts.”
The threat (and act) of cutting Olympic sports is nothing new for NCAA Division I programs. Loads of track and field, wrestling, swimming and diving and gymnastics teams were dropped in recent years, notably from Maryland and Temple.
UCLA, which featured half of the 1984 U.S. Olympic men’s gymnastics team champions, cut its men’s gymnastics program in 1994.
*Of the 532 U.S. Olympians in 2012, 62 percent played NCAA Division I sports at some point.