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TRAVERSE CITY — Central Michigan University cut its men’s indoor and outdoor track programs as a cost-saving measure because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The immediate discontinuation of men’s track and field was announced Tuesday morning by athletic director Michael Alford.

Traverse City Central standouts Joshua Jaymes and Nathan Pataky committed to the Chippewas a preferred walk-ons.

The total operating expenses for CMU men’s track and field and cross country was just over $750,000 for fiscal year 2018-19, with the university combining the budget of all three teams.

“We did not make this decision lightly, but we are facing a new financial reality due to enrollment challenges and now COVID-19,” Alford said in a statement. “Hundreds of students have participated in this longstanding, successful program at Central Michigan, and we know this will impact them — and supporters of this program — greatly.”

The cuts drop the Chippewas from 18 sponsored athletic teams to 16, exactly the threshold to remain in the Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision. CMU is the first school in the state to cut athletic programs, although many around the country have trimmed from their athletic offerings in recent months as revenues shrunk drastically from the panedemic’s impact.

Central had 36 student-athletes on the men’s track teams. Alford said scholarships for players on the teams, including incoming freshmen set to begin classes in the fall, will be honored. Two full-time coaching assistants were also eliminated.

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