(Photo: Sebastian Sowada)
(Photo: Sebastian Sowada)

ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud State University announced yesterday (Wednesday) they will be cutting six sports from its athletic program in order to help save money.

The sports being cut include men's and women's tennis, women's nordic skiing, men's cross country and men's indoor/outdoor track and field.

The timing of the announcement came just days after men's track and field finished in third place in a NSIC Indoor Championships in Mankato over the weekend.

"[Wednesday] was tough -- getting the athletes through it was my main concern," says SCSU track and field coach Sam Kettenhofen. "Their world was flipped upside down to be honest, and my focus is just getting them through the days to come."

Kettenhofen spent three years at SCSU as an assistant before becoming head coach this year. He says the announcement coming during the season blindsided his team.

"I think the biggest thing right now is just getting the kids to process the information," Kettenhofen says. "They have spring break coming up, and that will give them some time to get away, spend time with their families, and figure out what's best for them."

The cuts will leave about 80 student athletes, like sophomore Sebastian Sowada, with a tough decision -- continue on a partial scholarship at SCSU, or transfer to another school to continue in their sport.

"I go back and forth," Sowada says. "I think my academics have to come first -- I have to stick with the university, but then I think 'they didn't stick with me, and I love track and field, I have two more years left and I'll regret it if I don't do it."

"I have to continue school and I have so many friends here and I already signed a lease for next year -- there's just a lot of unknowns right now."

SCSU President Earl Potter says the cuts will save an estimated $250,000 -- or about 5 percent of the $9 million budget hole in the fiscal year 2017.

"It really just doesn't add up," Sowada says. "It just seems like they're using athletics as a scapegoat to throw the carpet over some of the other bad decisions they've made over the past five years or so."

A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money to keep men's track and field.