FAIRBANKS, Alaska — With steep cuts looming for University of Alaska athletics, regents want to avoid eliminating sports programs altogether.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/2d2vqpF) the proposed athletics cuts are the sharpest among initial plans in an effort to refocus the university as budget reductions persist.

An athletics working group presented three options that reduce sports offerings.

Regents decided to pursue plans to request an NCAA waiver that allows the school to compete with fewer teams.

They also directed University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen to research ways to maintain program offerings.

“An option here is to persuade the NCAA to waive the 10-team minimum rule,” he said. “We would have (a) number of teams, maybe it’s five, maybe it’s six, whatever that number may be.”

Johnsen will present regents with more detailed plans in November.

Regents and members of the public have said sports are an important component of college life.

“It’s this whole sense of place. It’s not just the athletes — it’s athletes, the people who want to go into debate, the clubs, the sororities, the fraternities, that makes up a campus,” said regent Mary K. Hughes. “I really am concerned when people talk about this money being spent just on these 10 or 12 people on a team.”

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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