Universities across the nation are cutting Olympic sports programs as a last-ditch effort to save money. For athletes, this loss is much more than a cancelled collegiate career.

Clemson University Men’s Track and Field alumnus Darron Coley speaks on the shocking reality of the cutting of the men’s track and field and cross country programs. He says, “All those friendships and relationships you’ve been able to create? They’re gone. All these people that you see walking around in the athletic facilities and tutoring rooms? Cancel them out. They’re gone.

Ridding of these programs is ridding of the opportunity to earn a college degree for many athletes.

After the announcement to discontinue the teams, Clemson released a statement saying the university would continue paying out the scholarships of current athletes and offer help to those who wish to transfer. As for the future college commits, they are left stranded with no scholarship, no team, and no opportunity to further their education.

Coley credits his education to his college career. He says, “I had never been in the state of South Carolina until my official visit to Clemson. I never would have ended up here had it not been for the track and field team and for coach Elliott giving me a shot to run on the program.”

Darron Coley Clemson Track and Field Alumnus
Darron Coley Clemson Track and Field Alumnus. Courtesy: Clemson Athletics

As an NCAA Division I track and field program, Clemson’s team has an average of 39 members on the team. The team receives 12.6 scholarships per year that can be split between 20 athletes.

Now, in 2021, there will be 20 fewer athletes getting a free education. Even further, NCAA Men’s Track and Field provides opportunities to over 10,000 athletes each year. The cancellation of collegiate O-sports teams can drastically diminish this. The harrowing question remains, “Who’s next?”

From Clemson to Coral Gables, the aftershock is hitting the Hurricanes. The current climb of COVID cases could be fatal for the future of Olympic sports. Women’s soccer player Taylor Shell fears for her future at The U, “It hurts as an athlete now to see that I could be the next program to be cut.”

Look at a visual story related to the cutting of Olympic sports teams here.

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