Due to athletic department budget restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, Cincinnati has shut down its men’s soccer program.

Director of Athletics John Cunningham announced the university’s decision Tuesday, which is effective immediately. Cincinnati will honor soccer players’ scholarships for the duration of their academic careers and allow them to be released immediately from the Bearcats’ roster if they wish to transfer to another program.

“This was a difficult decision, but one made with the long-term interests of UC Athletics at the forefront,” Cunningham said in a statement. “During this time of profound challenges and widespread uncertainty, I have engaged in a comprehensive and thorough review of UC’s sport offerings and long-term budget implications of supporting the number of student-athletes currently at UC. Based on this review, and in consultation with President Pinto and other university leaders, UC Athletics will no longer sponsor a men’s soccer program.

“Our men’s soccer student-athletes have been outstanding representatives of the university in the classroom and on the field,” Cunningham said. “They may not fully understand this decision, but I want them to know they were truly and conscientiously considered during my deliberations about the future of UC Athletics.”

The university started its men’s soccer program in 1973, and the Bearcats recorded an all-time record of 385-408-84. The team went 5-11-1 last season, and longtime head coach Hylton Dayes stepped down from his position in March.

The ending of Cincinnati’s men’s soccer team could potentially be the first domino to fall in a string of other schools cutting sports programs. With sports shut down during the pandemic, universities are financially impacted by the lack of revenue coming in and face even bigger budget restrictions if football season does not start on time or is canceled this fall. Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde explored how the NCAA system hangs in the balance amid this uncertain time.

Most schools do not make money off the majority of their sports and rely heavily on college football and men’s basketball to keep their athletic departments afloat financially. Schools are already looking at ways to save money by asking athletic directors and department leaders to take pay cuts, extending football season-ticket renewal deadlines or reducing teams’ travel budgets. With college football’s status up in the air, many other college sports could continue to be impacted.

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