As soon as next season, Denver will likely not be facing New Mexico in either men’s soccer or skiing due to sweeping program cuts.
With mounting losses projected well into the future and after extensive study, University President Garnett S. Stokes and athletic director Eddie Nunez presented their recommendations to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents to drop athletic programs at the Albuquerque institution. While football remains relatively unscathed, elimination was proposed for skiing, men’s soccer, women’s beach volleyball, and diving. Other programs such as cross country are likely to face budget cuts and scholarship reductions.
The Lobos’ men’s soccer team is one of the highest profile programs on the chopping block and their head coach Jeremy Fishbein warned in a Tampa Bay Times article “…the university could become a laughingstock if they go through with eliminating the soccer team and other athletic programs. He touted the academic success of his players, their contributions to the community and the effects they will have on the world as young leaders.” But the financial suffering in Albuquerque has been going on for quite some time and skiing was saved last year after external parties and alumni intervened to save the program.
UNM teams have won three national championships. The women’s cross-country won the NCAA championship in 2015 and 2017 and the Skiing championship in 2004. The men’s soccer team was National Runner-Up, losing in overtime to the University of Maryland in 2005 as the No. 2 seed, the highest ranking for a UNM soccer team in school history.
While the Mountain West is generally considered a powerful conference, even bottom tier Power 5 teams are starting to report budget woes. The University of Missouri reported a loss last year, despite huge revenue of $98 million dollars while spending a whopping $102 million dollars.