Universities around the country, particularly at the Division III level, have and continue to use athletics as a strategy to grow enrollment and enhance campus life. Unfortunately, at NJCU, the enrollment expectations of some sports programs — as well as some academic programs – have not materialized as projected for a variety of reasons but namely macro socioeconomic factors such as a declining population of high school students across the country. Additionally, enrollment at NJCU continues to feel the effects of COVID-19, which has disproportionately affected the student population this institution serves.
While the expansion of the athletics department since 2018 did require investment it also produced returns nearly offset through the recruitment of additional student-athletes. However, in fiscal year 2023, the Athletic Department budget will represent a smaller portion of the overall university budget.
These additional measures are expected to save the university at minimum another $230,000. Since, July 1, 2022 the overall Athletic Department budget has been reduced by over 50%.
Personnel decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
The athletics leadership will provide support and guidance to those student athletes impacted. For the men’s and women’s golf and tennis programs, their seasons will continue this spring as originally scheduled. Students wishing to explore transfer opportunities, whether immediately to compete for another school next semester, or at the conclusion of the academic year, will immediately be granted their full release. Students who wish to finish the balance of their academic career at NJCU will continue to have access to all student-athlete support services, including RKI programming, academic support and guidance, and mental-health services. Students in the men’s cross country program are traditionally also members of the men’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams and will still have an opportunity to participate for each of those programs if they wish. If not, they too will be granted their release should they wish to join a cross country team at another institution.
While significant measures have been taken to reach budget neutrality by the end of fiscal year 2023, it would be disingenuous to suggest additional cost containment strategies will need to be given serious consideration across the entire university.