ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico ski team is on the chopping block because of budget cuts, and the fight to save the ski team is growing.
Tuesday morning, the UNM Board of Regents meet, and you can expect a show of support for the ski team during that meeting.
Last week, the university announced the 47-year-old program is going away. UNM said on Thursday, that cut will save $600,000 a year.
However, the NCAA-winning ski team is disputing that figure, saying they do their share of fundraising, don’t have million-dollar buildings to maintain, and that many athletes not on scholarship pay their own way.
An online petition launched last week had close to 7,700 signatures by Monday afternoon.
The ski coach and athletes say they were blindsided and hope the Board of Regents realizes the magnitude of this move on Tuesday.
On Monday, UNM skiers received online support from Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin. On Twitter, the Colorado native wrote, “So sad to see sport the sport I love being cut from UNM athletics. Skiing teachers passion, drive, discipline…” She also expressed support on Facebook.
“We’re hoping as many people as possible will show up and support us and show that this is not the way to treat people. This is not the way to do it. Something else needs to change in the athletic department. Cutting the ski team will not change things,” said Fredrik Landstedt, UNM ski coach.
Adding fuel to the fire, UNM basketball coach Craig Neal was fired this month, leaving the school at a hefty price, with the university paying for a $1 million buyout.
A rally will take place at 7:45 a.m. on campus just before the 8 a.m. Board of Regents meeting.