To the men’s program community,
All of us at USA Gymnastics – and particularly the men’s program staff – have been devastated by the loss of several of our top collegiate programs. Our hearts are with all of the coaches, staff, parents, alumni and, most importantly, the athletes who have been affected. The men’s collegiate gymnastics’ community is like a family, and when even one program is lost, we all feel the pain and frustration.
While there have been concerns about the decline in men’s NCAA programs over the years, there was still incredible support for men’s collegiate gymnastics entering 2020. But, none of us saw COVID-19 coming, or anticipated the effects it would have on the collegiate sports landscape. Universities are suffering $60-$100 million in lost revenue from the cancellation of March Madness and the college football season and, because of that, men’s gymnastics programs, along with other Olympic sports, are being sacrificed.
For the past several months, since it has become clear that COVID was not going away, USA Gymnastics leadership has been involved in a number of efforts and conversations to help mitigate the toll. The USAG men’s program staff have taken part in discussions with the Collegiate Gymnastics Association (CGA) and the USOPC in trying to formulate an action plan to preserve the remaining NCAA programs. And while USAG and the USOPC are not able to provide the financial assistance needed to make a dent in the deficits facing collegiate athletic departments, the CGA has presented a number of cost-saving measures to be taken back to school Athletic Directors. USAG and the USOPC are now in the process of creating a committee made up of men’s gymnastics and NCAA stakeholders who will be tasked with exploring short-term cost saving measures, as well as coming up with long-term sustainability initiatives. There has been no lack of creativity, and no lack of fight or commitment, throughout this time.
We currently find ourselves having lost three major NCAA programs, and the potential for more losses to come. So, the question becomes “what do we do?”
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that question and no simple fix to this complex, global problem. However, we can assure you all that we are not throwing in the towel. We care far too much about these NCAA programs to give up. We will continue to develop short-term initiatives to provide support, while reimagining how we can create a sustainable model for remaining a top program in the world, despite the new reality we are all facing.
These are not easy conversations to have, or quick decisions to make, and getting to the best solutions will take all of the members of our community working together with patience and persistence.
We know that this is a very difficult time for everyone who loves the sport of men’s gymnastics, and that includes our men’s program staff. The entire USAG leadership and staff are fully committed to keeping men’s gymnastics alive at the collegiate level. We may not have all of the answers right now, but we believe in our community, and we will figure this out together. Please continue to support one another and share your ideas. That is the most important thing we can do right now.
Li Li Leung
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Programs Officer
Vice President, Men’s Program