Men’s gymnastics program coming to an end

Gophers men’s gymnastics on the verge of final season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Tony Saunders

Head Coach Mike Burns, left sits with Donte McKinney, middle, and Crew Bold during practice at Cooke Hall on Tuesday, July 16, 2019.

AJ Condon

On Thursday, Sept. 10, athletics director Mark Coyle announced that men’s gymnastics, along with men’s tennis and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, will be discontinued following the 2020-21 athletic season.

According to a press release, the Gophers’ athletics department estimates a $75 million loss in revenue due to the pandemic. It was no longer financially able to fund 25 varsity sports with the loss of the football season.

The gymnastics season ended early last season, and now they’re on the brink of competing in their last. The Gophers weren’t able to compete in their final two meets of the season as well as the Big Ten and NCAA championships. They ended the season ranked 10th in the nation.

Head coach Mike Burns was getting ready for his 17th season with the team as things started to look a little more normal. They were back in Cooke Hall practicing and preparing for a season Burns was looking forward to. That all changed Thursday.

Following the news, Burns and the team met for a “lengthy meeting” to discuss how they wanted to proceed with the season.

“In general, parents and everybody [were] willing to move forward and try to make this happen,” Burns said. “It’s certainly a tough time here. You have to find the strength and motivation to be moving forward.”

It’s business as usual for the gymnasts. They are back in the gym after a summer filled with creative ways to stay in shape. The team has a date looming over their heads, but they’re still getting ready for the season at hand.

“It’s really hard to put [the program cancellation] out of your mind. You gotta realize it’s always gonna be there in your mind and use it as motivation. There’s still a lot of uncertainty with sports but we’re moving forward with the idea that we’ll have a season,” Burns said.

Burns has no intentions of this being the final season of the men’s gymnastics program. Coyle called him the day after the decision, and Burns let him know his intentions. Burns has been active on Twitter, urging people to come together and stand up for the gymnastics program.

He’s been an advocate for the most recent campaign put on by USA Gymnastics called the “Stronger Together” campaign to try and save collegiate gymnastics and is asking fans to contact the Board of Regents on the program’s behalf.

“I have something in my DNA that I can’t get rid of, the desire to fight. I’m gonna tell you now I’m not gonna roll over and go away. I can’t do that, and I won’t do that,” Burns said.