The UB Bulls, pictured after winning the Big 4 Shield in 2015, will no longer have a men’s soccer program. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

The University at Buffalo will no longer field an intercollegiate men's soccer team, the school announced Monday.

Men's soccer was one of four sports to get the ax, with men's baseball, men's swimming and diving, and women's rowing also included. The women's soccer program is unaffected.

Here's the official statement from UB President Satish K. Tripathi:

“This has been a very difficult decision made only with extensive deliberation,” he said. “The unfortunate reality is that we no longer have the resources to support 20 competitive Division I athletic teams. I know that this is a difficult day for our student-athletes, our coaches, and the entire athletics program and university."

Further statements from Athletic Director Allen Greene pointed to financial concerns as the main reason for reducing athletic programs.

“We operate in a hyper-competitive environment and are not immune to the financial challenges facing programs at our level,” said Greene. “Regrettably, after exploring many scenarios, the reality is our current path is not sustainable and reductions reluctantly became the only option.

"While we continue to look for ways to mitigate rising costs, we will roll up our sleeves and enhance our efforts to better educate our community about the importance of ticket sales and philanthropy.”

UB will drop four sports teams in athletics budget cutback

While crowds tend to be sparse at Bulls men's soccer matches, the notion of ticket sales being an issue is moot because games were free to attend.

Browsing the FAQ of the announcement, which occurred now - during men's baseball's and women's rowing's seasons - because of the timing of the department's annual review, the factors dooming men's soccer were program costs, athletics’ facilities, Title IX, geographic location and a comparison of sports sponsored by Mid-American Conference schools.

Perhaps the size of the Mid-American Conference in men's soccer - just six teams - played a role in UB's comfort in eliminating the sport. The UB women play in a more geographically friendly version of the MAC, where 12 teams are split into two, six-team divisions.

Small crowds, big subsidy for UB sports

The Bulls men's soccer program reached the Mid-American Conference final the last two seasons, with standout Russell Cicerone getting drafted in the fourth round of Major League Soccer's SuperDraft. Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth is the most decorated UB soccer alum; he was traded from Major League Soccer's New England Revolution to Minnesota United before this season. He's now the Loons' starter.

Rumblings of trouble popped up regularly this offseason, though, with former head coach Stu Riddle taking the job at Northern Kentucky, in part due to a lack of sufficient resources, while starting goalkeeper Joseph Kuta chose to pursue further academic endeavors rather than play out his senior year.

New head coach Davie Carmichael and the Bulls appeared unaware of the news late last night, as UB had just faced Gannon in its first spring match.

Although the news affects the entire roster, former Section VI high school players like Hunter Walsh (St. Joe's) and Mike Juszczak (Starpoint, Empire DA), as well as 2017 commits Nemanja Simic (Grand Island), Sebastian Diaz (Southwestern) and Cam Law (Clarence), will need to look for different options if they intend to play Division I.

UB's surprise exit from NCAA Division I soccer leaves Canisius, Niagara and St. Bonaventure as the remaining top-level men's programs in the area.

The reaction on social media has, as expected, been that of shock, anger and sympathy.

Current and former players and staff spoke out:

From the rest of the soccer community:

Email: btsujimoto@Buffnews.com

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