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February 6, 2009 - Missouri, other colleges, cope with economic stress

The economic recession is making creating tough decisions for many of the college athletic departments in the nation's top competitive division, NCAA's Division I-Football Bowl Subdivision.  An article by the Columbia Daily Tribune noted that the University of Missouri-Columbia is cutting travel costs, scheduling contests closer to home, reducing recruiting visits, and considering other cost saving measures.  The financial pinch is being felt at Missouri in spite of donors giving a record $7.7 million to the Tiger Scholarship Fund last year, a figure buoyed in part by the groundswell of excitement created by the football team’s breakout 2007 season.

The article notes how other institutions are dealing with the economic strains: Stanford University athletics anticipates a $5 million in revenue loss over the next three years; Iowa State University's four top-paid athletic officials, including the football and men's basketball coaches, agreed to take a one-week furlough to save the school $50,000; and, at The Ohio State University is trimming squad sizes and no longer “taking unnecessary personnel to away games.”  At the NCAA, which pays the expenses of all schools playing in national tournaments across 22 sports, athletes will be limited to two travel bags and raising the fly-drive threshold to tournament sites from 350 to 400 miles. If teams do fly, the NCAA expects them to search within 150 miles for the airport with the cheapest fares.