CHICAGO (CBS) — Student athletes and staff on the campus of the University of Illinois in Chicago learned two of their sports teams will be eliminated after this season.
CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reports the gymnastics programs at UIC are scheduled to end in April.
The men’s and women’s teams have trained at the UIC campus since the 1970s, but that could end this spring.
“We were informed that the 71st season will be the final season of UIC gymnastics,” said Charley Nelson, the Head Coach for UIC Men’s Gymnastics. “It’s like having a death. There’s tears initially.”
In a statement, the university cited costs and limited resources as reasons for eliminating the programs, adding the decision will impact 11 female and 25 male athletes beyond this season, including Kelvin Stevens Junior, a freshman at the university.
“Year one, and you might be done?” CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross asked Stevens.
“Yeah. That’s really heartbreaking,” Stevens responded.
The men’s gymnastics coach, Charley Nelson, has been part of the university for 24 years and describes the legacy of the program.
“No other sport at UIC is older,” Nelson said. “2 NCAA championships and 7 all American division one, all American athletes.”
UIC says they will honor all scholarships of those who want to stay and continue their studies at the school, or grant permission for gymnastics to go elsewhere.
“Some people will transfer to continue, other people, they love their university,” said Nelson. “If this is the last year, we will fight until we can’t fight anymore.”
The coach and students are not planning to shut things down without a fight and are looking for help from outside donors and private funding.