For reference, the FY 2019 athletic operating budget at Minnesota is available on their website:
In FY 2019, the media rights revenue was $35M for football alone and another $8.7M for basketball. It is clear that they are going to lose out on about half or more of revenue this year, and it is surely the same at all other P5 schools that aren't having football seasons. However, it is also clear that this loss in revenue is likely to only affect this season, and revenue will return to normal next year (or even better if the football team keeps winning!). So, why on earth would you eliminate three teams that have total operating expenses less than PJ Fleck's salary, and generate significant negative press? Especially when tens of millions were just spent building a new outdoor track stadium and remodeling the indoor track facility? Surely there must be a way to decrease operating expenses, right???? Let's break down some numbers:
Men's Track& Field / XC budget:
FY 2019 Revenue: $302,649 (mostly from individual contributions and facility rental)
FY 2019 Expenses: $2,185,047
Coaches/Staff Salary: $392,000
Travel (including food): $406,000
Debt Payment/Facility Fees: $564,000
Meals (not travel): $60,000
Other stuff: The rest
Tennis and gymnastics have operating expenses even lower, both under $1M.
With an overall budget of $130M, the expenses from these three sports is equal to less than 3% of total expenses (~$3.3M) for the athletic department if we assume that XC alone accounts for about 25% of the total expenses above. Meanwhile, the budget for free meals provided to athletes (majority to football) when they are all already on all-you-can-eat meal plans and have their own private dining hall, is $3.1M. And PJ Fleck's salary is about $5M. Mark Coyle's salary of $1M could itself support the tennis or gymnastics teams. In a year without sports, doesn't it seem like taking just a 10% pay cut when you are already making enough money to fund an entire sports team for a year (or five) is insanely short-sighted and tone-deaf? 10% is NOTHING when compared to upending the lives of dozens of athletes and coaches, without any warning or discussion of what can be done to alleviate the issue.
When going through the budget, it is glaringly obvious that they are over spending on things that in reality do not impact the success of teams (meals, gear/equipment, travel) apart from football and basketball due to its positive impact on recruitment. There are actions that could have been taken to reduce cost significantly (especially since its only one year!!) that would have allowed these teams to continue. It is a lazy and cowardly move by the university administration that makes it very clear that they do not care about sports that do not generate significant revenue. If you were running a business, then of course it makes sense to eliminate these programs if you're just looking at the budget. But this is not (or at least should not be) a business, it is a public university with a long-standing history of excellence in a lot of sports, including the ones being eliminated. It's really a shame, but I am hopeful that there will be a large enough backlash that something can be done to stop this.
p.s. Yes, the reason only men's teams were eliminated is because of Title IX, but the administration pointing to that as one of the main reasons this is happening is redirecting the blame off of themselves and their inability to find a reasonable solution. Title IX is not the reason these programs are being cut in the first place.