Boise State Eliminates Baseball Program, Cites Budget Concerns
Boise State on Thursday announced it eliminated its baseball and swimming and diving programs. The news comes three years after the school moved to restart its long-dormant baseball program and less than five months after the Broncos made their official return to the diamond.
Boise State is the third school to cut baseball in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and financial crisis affecting college athletics, joining Furman and Chicago State. Bowling Green State also eliminated its program, but within two weeks reversed that decision after a fundraising effort by the program’s alumni and supporters secured the sport’s future.
The cuts at Boise State are a part of measures that will reduce the athletic department budget by nearly $3 million, according to a press release.
"Today's decision came after an extensive review and in-depth analysis of the athletics department's budgets and programs by several senior leaders," Boise State president Marlene Tromp said in a statement. "The university had already been working closely with athletics to create a sustainable budget. The pandemic has made a challenging financial situation unsustainable. Ultimately, the reduction of the number of sports in which we compete allows Boise State a better chance of remaining competitive at the highest level and provides a more realistic roadmap to a sustainable future for the university and athletic department."
Boise State in 2017 announced it would restart its baseball program, which had been eliminated in 1980. It cut wrestling at the same time, partially to free up some space in the budget for baseball and in part because the Mountain West Conference sponsored baseball but not wrestling.
Boise State became one of a handful of schools to restart its baseball program over the last 12 years, joining Pacific Northwest neighbors Oregon and Seattle, as well as Akron. The Broncos seemed determined to make the venture a success and hired Gary Van Tol, who spent his whole career playing and coaching in the Northwest, as their head coach.
The Broncos brought their first class of players to campus in the fall of 2018, a full year before they would even play fall exhibition games. There were a dozen players in that class, an indication of the kind of interest Boise State could draw.
That interest was felt in the community. Van Tol in December said people in Boise were eager to see the team return.
“Everywhere I go, people want to stop and get an update and talk about Boise State baseball,” Van Tol said. “They can’t wait to come and watch a game. I think we have a real special opportunity to build something pretty unique.”
The Broncos opened their season at Texas, where they were swept, but were more competitive than might have been expected for a first-year team. They went on to win their next three series—all at home—and were 9-5 when the season was halted by the pandemic.
But Boise State has been hit hard by the financial fallout of the crisis. During the shutdown, Van Tol and the rest of the Broncos coaches were this spring required to take furloughs as a cost-saving measure. Ultimately, the department looked for even bigger savings in its budget.
The return of baseball at Boise State once looked very promising with the talk of bringing blue turf to the diamond and the Broncos off to a flying start this season. Now, just 14 games into a new era, the program has again been shuttered.