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Nebraska-Kearney baseball

Nebraska-Kearney is eliminating baseball following the 2018 season.

CORBEY DORSEY, Nebraska-Kearney

The University of Nebraska at Kearney on Monday outlined proposed budget cuts that exceed $3.4 million.

Among the cuts: the elimination of three men's athletic programs following the 2018 seasons — baseball, golf and tennis.

The sports reductions will save UNK $450,000 annually, according to the school.

"We have tightened our belts for years, but the current situation has required a more strategic approach to protect academic quality and core campus functions and services," UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen said.

The athletic cuts will impact 56 student-athletes, and 10 incoming freshmen.

Nebraska-Kearney athletic director Paul Plinske said student-athletes' scholarships for baseball, men's golf and men's tennis will be honored through their remaining eligibility, and the athletic department will support athletes who want to transfer.

The school will also honor any signed letters-of-intent.

Starting next school year, UNK will offer only five men's sports: basketball, football, wrestling, cross county, and track and field. There are nine women's programs.

"This is a very tough day for Loper athletics," Plinske said. "Difficult times require difficult decisions, and none are as hard as those that affect the lives of our students.

"We will stay focused on being positive about the many accomplishments of these teams and will support our student-athletes and coaches who are most affected by this news."

According to Kristensen, UNK's current lineup of 17 sports is the most of any public university in the 14-school Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

Plinske said offering 17 sports at the NCAA Division II institution is not sustainable given the current economic climate.

Title IX compliance prohibited consideration of eliminating any women's sports, and the MIAA requires sponsorship of football and basketball.

"From there we analyzed operational and personnel costs, facility and travel costs, and looked at sports that lack opportunity for home competitions because of Nebraska’s spring climate," Plinske said.

The budget reductions were presented to a forum of faculty, staff and students Monday. The administration will now receive feedback from faculty and staff to formulate final budget reductions that will become effective July 1.

The Loper baseball team just started its season, with Damon Day entering his 15th season as head coach. Under Day, UNK has won two conference tournament titles, one regular-season conference title and has made four NCAA Division II Tournament appearances.

There are 12 native Nebraskans on the baseball roster.

Jake Saulsbury, who coaches the UNK men's tennis team, also coaches the women's team.

Wes Bernt is in his sixth season coaching the Loper men's golf team.


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