Fisk drops varsity athletics in restructuring action
Division III member Fisk will discontinue its varsity athletics program as part of an institutional restructuring designed to reduce operational costs while the university seeks to rebuild its endowment.
The school, which sponsors 14 varsity sports, announced to Nashville-area news media outlets that it will provide a mix of intramural and club sports to replace the intercollegiate athletics program.
Fisk has been a member of the NCAA since 1952 and has been competing as a Division III independent.
The university, which was founded in 1866, recently initiated a fund-raising campaign to address what Denise Billye Bowers Sanders, chair of Fisk’s board of directors, described in a December 6 letter to alumni as a “financial crisis.”
The university received a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to meet the university’s immediate financial obligations, and the foundation also pledged an additional grant up to $2 million to match contributions from donors. The university is attempting to raise $4 million in donations by June 30 to receive the full grant from the foundation.
The announcement of the discontinuation of varsity athletics accompanied an announcement from the school that it has raised slightly more than $1 million toward that goal.
The restructuring also involves the university’s Race Relations Institute, a regular series of conferences dating back to 1942 for discussion of national and international problems of race. The program is being placed under Fisk’s Center for the Study of Culture, Ideology and Civic Engagement.
Officials said the restructuring effort will reduce operational costs at the university by $500,000.
Ken West, the university’s vice president for communications and public relations, told the Nashville Tennessean that the varsity athletics program costs Fisk approximately $300,000 annually to operate, while generating approximately $10,000 in revenue.
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association