CEDAR CITY — As the coronavirus pandemic has continued on, a growing number of collegiate sports programs around the country have been dropped as schools manage a changing financial landscape.

On Tuesday, those cuts came to a school in the Beehive State, as Southern Utah University announced it is cutting both its men’s and women’s tennis programs.

A letter from head women’s coach Mike Mucci to alums of the program surfaced on Facebook in early June indicating that the school was planning to cut the teams. The letter said Mucci and men’s coach Raleigh Grossbaum had until the end of the month to raise funds to continue the programs.

“I am more heartbroken for the girls that both committed to this program as my recruits and for the girls that have fought tooth and nail for 3-4 years making this program into one that was well-respected and contenders in the Big Sky Conference.” — SUU women’s tennis coach Mike Mucci

According to the letter, university president Scott L. Wyatt said $1 million needed to be raised by July 1 and more than $15 million would ultimately need to be raised to build an indoor facility and “help ensure the program is somewhat self-sustaining in the future.”

In a Facebook post Monday night, Mucci expressed disappointment that he will no longer be able to coach the program, but added, “I am more heartbroken for the girls that both committed to this program as my recruits and for the girls that have fought tooth and nail for 3-4 years making this program into one that was well-respected and contenders in the Big Sky Conference.”

He said it’s a “sad and scary time for college athletics, specifically college tennis,” but “I know with so many great coaches and leaders across the country, we will find a solution and college tennis will be stronger in the long run.”

In a press release, the school said dropping the two tennis programs puts it more equal with its Big Sky counterparts in terms of the number of sports it sponsors.

“We are committed to providing our student-athletes with the best possible academic and athletic experience,” Wyatt said in a statement. “By reducing the number of athletic offerings by two, we can provide a higher level of support to our students and improve the experience for our fans.” 

The release said the athletic department will help student-athletes who want to transfer to another school with a tennis program, and that the university “will continue to honor all athletic scholarships awarded members of the tennis teams who decide to remain at SUU to continue their studies.”