AKRON, Ohio – University of Akron baseball alumni and supporters have launched a website and are working to save the program.
The program, which cost about $700,000 a year, was eliminated by the university last month as one measure to deal with a $60 million deficit.
Baseball alumni on Thursday launched SaveZipsBaseball.com to serve as the primary source of news and organization for alumni and supporters.
— John Turk (@JohnTurk21) July 15, 2015
— Christa Knight (@clkx2) July 14, 2015
The alumni said the decision by trustees to end the program after 142 seasons left 36 students, including nine incoming freshmen, weeks to find a new university to attend and play baseball.
To date, 19 players have received offers from other colleges, supporters said.
Baseball alumni and supporters of the program sought to save the program with an endowment fund but “any attempts to discuss this possibility were quickly shut down by President Scott Scarborough and the Board of Trustees,” the alumni said in a statement.
“We acknowledge that endowing the baseball program would be a multi-year process, but it should also be noted that the baseball program’s annual operating budget represents less than 2 percent of the total University of Akron Athletics annual budget,” the statement said.
The UA baseball website includes a list of alumni but does not yet include information on donations.
Baseball supporters said in a statement that they are upset with recent actions at the university, including 161 employees losing their jobs.
“While we as Akron Baseball Alumni work towards our long term goal of returning the baseball program, we know that many families are now dealing with far greater concerns as a result of lost jobs and uncertain futures,” the statement says.
It is the second time within months that supporters in Northeast Ohio have rallied around an eliminated university sport.
While UA’s baseball program was eliminated as part of a wide range of cuts, Cleveland State University’s wrestling program was cut when the university decided to add men’s lacrosse.
The program, which costs about $400,000 a year, was saved after students voted to pay an additional fee.
Local and national CSU wrestling supporters rallied around the program after the university announced in March that it would no longer be funded.
CSU trustees in July approved a $3-per-credit-hour fee to fund athletics. The fee, which will be imposed on all students taking 9 credit hours or more a semester, will be $1 a credit hour this year and $3 in future years.