On Tuesday morning, University of Cincinnati Athletic Director John Cunningham made the most significant decision of his short tenure by announcing the Bearcats men’s soccer program has been eliminated.
It’s an extremely unfortunate decision.
"Extremely difficult." Cincinnati AD John Cunningham says cutting the men's soccer program "is something you never want to have to do." He says COVID-19 played a factor, but UC made the decision based on a review of long-term budget implications. @WLWT #Bearcats pic.twitter.com/u99WRKSy5Z— Brandon Saho (@BrandonSaho) April 14, 2020
Cincinnati’s men’s soccer program originated in 1973 and had an all-time record of 385-408-84. They made the NCAA Tournament three times, going 0-2-1, with the last appearance coming in 2006. the program produced a few professional players such as Emmanuel Appiah, John Manga, Omar Cummings, Josh Gardner and Tim Brown.
The decision is a little bit surprising, given the recent surge in soccer interest in the city of Cincinnati. Major League Soccer expanded to Cincinnati, awarding them a pro team recently, so the sport doesn’t lack fans in the area. But the UC team apparently did and didn’t generate enough revenue to proceed interest. They were also reportedly struggling to fill the head coaching vacancy, following the firing of Hylton Dayes, who had been the head coach at UC since 2001.
For me personally, I am not a big fan of soccer, but I am a big fan of Cincinnati Bearcats sports so this news is definitely upsetting and disappointing. Anytime Cincinnati played a game, whether it’s soccer, basketball, football, whatever, I want to win. It sucks because it’s one less opportunity every year to beat Xavier.
When football coach Luke Fickell arrived at UC in 2017, his famous press conference line was “if they keep score, we want to win”. In that instance, Fickell was referring to recruiting. But the line is true in many cases. While I may not like soccer, I wanted UC to win. I checked the scores constantly and was up to speed on how the team was doing and the latest events.
As a freshman in 2006, I remember the run to the NCAA Tournament. That team went 11-6-2 and generated a lot of buzz around campus. As a member of RallyCats, I attended many games that year and in the years that followed. I am simply a Bearcats fan and will support anyone and everyone who wears UC colors, which is why today’s news saddens me.
But I understand and respect the decision, and I trust that AD Cunningham did this with the school’s best short and long term interests of the University.
A few quotes from the AD this morning.
Good for UC for committing to these student-athletes. Either they stay at Cincinnati for the duration of their education at a full-ride scholarship. Or the administration will assist them with their transfer where they obviously will be declared immediately eligible due to the circumstances.
It’s tough to see this happen. Whether COVID-19 pandemic was the sole reason or not, it is going to be a major factor in athletic departments moving forward. Budget cuts are going to be a big thing at most Universities. Some may cut salaries, some may cut employees, and others may take the route that UC took and cut sports.