ORONO, Maine – The University of Maine volleyball and men’s soccer teams have been suspended as a cost-cutting measure.

The suspensions are effective June 30 as the university seeks to cut $8.8 million from its budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The athletic department budget shortfall is expected to be $871,000 based on budget cuts, which amount to $253,000, as well as endowment losses, reduced annual gifts, decline in ticket sales, lower-than-expected merchandise sales and other externally generated revenues totaling $618,000.

The soccer and volleyball program suspensions will result in a projected first-year saving of approximately $600,000 and eventual ongoing annual savings of more than $900,000. The rest of the first-year budget reduction total ($271,000) will be met through internal revenue-generating and cost-saving procedures, such as schedule reductions, guarantee games and other adjustments.

In 2008-2009, the Black Bear men’s soccer team had 26 players on its roster and the volleyball team had 15. Soccer provided 7.5 scholarships and volleyball, 12. The university’s savings will result from those scholarship budget lines, in addition to operating costs such as coaches’ salaries, recruiting expenses, travel expenses and other miscellaneous expenditures. Each team had one head coach and one assistant coach.

UMaine said it will honor its scholarship commitments to current volleyball and soccer student-athletes who wish to continue work toward a UMaine degree. Recruited scholarship student-athletes who have signed a National Letter of Intent to play one of these sports will be eligible for one year of scholarship funding if they choose to attend UMaine.

Per NCAA guidelines related to discontinued sports, UMaine will grant any institution permission to contact an affected student-athlete by circulating an all-inclusive transfer release message to NCAA member institutions. In addition, NCAA guidelines allow student-athletes who transfer to be immedi-ately eligible for financial aid, practice and competition provided they meet all academic requirements and are not under disciplinary suspension.

“This is the option of last resort,” UMaine Athletic Director Blake James said in a release. “We place a high value on the opportunities that all of our sports create for our student-athletes and we recognize the commitment of coaches, support staff and fans. We have taken these steps after exhausting every feasible option for managing these unprecedented budget challenges.”