NEW YORK – NCAA president Mark Emmert says it was troubling to see the University of Alabama-Birmingham drop its football program. But he believes Olympic sports are more vulnerable to cuts as schools look at athletic budgets.
Emmert spoke with The Associated Press on Tuesday. He said he worries that while autonomy for the Big Five conferences will lead to more money being spent on athletes it could decrease the overall number of opportunities in college sports for students.
UAB dropped its football program last week. The school cited rising costs of college athletics, including pressure to pay the full cost of attendance for athletes. That proposal was supported by Emmert and pushed by the wealthiest conferences.
“I think it’s really hard and hard for people to understand when you have to back away or make a decision to back away from a sport,” Emmert said. “But schools do that fairly often, actually, they just rarely do it in football or men’s basketball or women’s basketball.”
Emmert was president at the University of Washington when the school dropped its men’s and women’s swimming program.
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