UMM will suspend its athletics program

The University of Maine at Machias will suspend its intercollegiate athletics program for an indefinite period, effective July 21.

The suspension is part of a broader effort to reduce expenditures and restructure campus operations in response to budget constraints, which have been exacerbated by unexpected costs and loss of revenues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The change will affect two full-time employees, four temporary part-time coaches and 73 student-athletes, including 20 new recruits. Those affected have been personally notified by athletics and fitness director Mike Belanger and head of campus Dan Qualls.

“This decision was made after an in-depth review of the athletics program, during which we explored a number of options for reducing costs without suspending operations,” says Qualls.  “It became clear that, under the constraints of our current budget, and especially in light of the additional costs and safety concerns associated with the pandemic, we would not be able to provide the necessary facilities, equipment and resources for a safe and competitive environment for our student-athletes.

“The success of our student-athletes is our top priority during this difficult time. Though I appreciate the impact this action will have on these valued members of our community, it’s a necessary step to ensure the long-term viability of our institution and the continued success of all UMM students.”

For those student-athletes who wish to complete their studies at UMM, the university has committed to honoring scholarships through the 2023–24 academic year. University staff also will provide advising and support for those students choosing to transfer to another institution.

Belanger, who will continue in his role as fitness director, will form a committee this fall in partnership with the University of Maine Campus Recreation program to explore options for expanding nonvarsity sports offerings, including e-sports.

“This is a sad day for the Clipper family, especially for our student-athletes who work so hard to excel on the field, court, track, and in the classroom,” says Belanger.

“However, I remain excited about the future of UMM and am looking forward to developing intramural and club sports activities with the support of UMaine recreation staff. These programs have the potential to be more sustainable for our small campus, while still giving our students opportunities to enrich their college experience through athletic competition,” Belanger says.

A community message from President Ferrini-Mundy, Qualls and Belanger is online.