AFA athletic director weighs impact of budget cuts

$400,000 cutback proposed from $4 million annual budget

AFA Weighs Impact of Budget Cuts on Athletics

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The athletic director for the Air Force Academy said Wednesday that proposed budget cuts could mean a reduced travel budget, fewer coaches and even smaller rosters for sports teams.

Hans Mueh said the proposed cuts from the Department of Defense also would eliminate 30 positions.

"We already have some vacant positions," he said.  "We haven't filled them and we probably won't fill them."

Mueh said the cuts won't force the Academy to eliminate sports or leave athletes unable to compete against schools with bigger budgets and better talent.

"It's not like we can go out and improve our recruiting," he said.  "Recruiting already is tough enough with the academic requirements we have."

Mueh said he's counting on cadet-athletes to do more with less, and that they seem eager to try.

"They will perform to the best of their abilities," he said.  "They'll push through because the opportunity for them to compete at that level is what it's all about.  And that gets them better-prepared to become officers in our Air Force."

To supplement the athletic department's budget, Mueh said a nonprofit foundation started last summer to collect and allocate donations to the department.

"There's not a lot of money yet," he said.  "It has to mature.  But once it does, we could have more money for our athletic programs than we do now."

Mueh said the Academy will look more closely at future opportunities to increase broadcast revenue.

"Video streaming, that's the wave of the future," he said.  "That could provide opportunities for us."

When asked whether the Academy can draw more revenue by having more teams earn additional money in postseason play, Mueh simply smiled.

"We may not have the superstars but I like our team concepts," he said.  "I'm optimistic this will all work out somehow."

Finally, Mueh said the Academy won't raise ticket prices to offset possible budget cuts.

"We want the seats to be full," he said.  "Fans probably will pay less for tickets this year."

The proposed athletic department cuts were part of an overall package of cuts announced Tuesday by the Department of Defense.

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