We're in the home stretch of the fall semester, and I'm excited. Of course, it's not the daunting prospect of finals week that I look forward to. Rather, it's the dramatic buildup to the upcoming indoor track season that has me in such high spirits.

My good mood was quickly dampened when I read about the University of Maryland's decision to "fix" its budget crisis by cutting eight varsity sports teams, track and field among them.

A university commission chose to cut the men's cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's tennis, women's water polo, and acrobatics and tumbling teams in an effort to reduce a multimillion dollar deficit in the school's budget.

Fortunately, each team and its supporters will have until June 30, 2012 to raise the funds necessary to continue operating until 2020.

Out of the eight programs, track is historically the most successful: the team has won 23 Atlantic Coast Conference Titles, eight NCAA individual championships, and at least one runner has been a member of a Super Bowl-winning team. Furthermore, Head Coach Andrew Valmon is preparing to lead the United States 2012 Olympics team in London.

But planning for eight years' worth of funding seems like a tall order.

I hope that alumni will turn out in droves and help keep the track program from being eliminated, but I'm shocked that a major university would consider cutting its financial ties with a team that has brought so much esteem, pride and loyalty to the institution.

My question is, why would an athletic department cut a low-cost sport like track?

Granted, pole vault and high jump mats are expensive, but outfitting a team of 66 men and women with shirts, shorts and cleats is surely a drop in the bucket compared to the football team, which supports 95 athletes as well as 24 coaches and related officials.

It seems that revenue is the answer. In the last decade or so, college football and basketball have been the cash cows that have driven the NCAA machine, with lucrative television contracts and national coverage. Track, on the other hand, is not a revenue-generating sport: Who starts running in the hopes they can make money?

Athletic departments heavily invest in big-time coaches hoping that they can turn football or basketball programs into national powerhouses. Athletic directors scour the country for the next coach who will make their school into a fierce football force or a household name in college basketball.

Kevin Anderson, Maryland's athletic director, oversaw the hiring of two high-profile coaches this year, bringing in football coach Randy Edsall from the University of Connecticut and basketball coach Mark Turdgeon from Texas A&M.

Anderson hoped that the success of his new hires would generate donations from Maryland alumni that played for the respective teams, but the football team's dreadful regular season (2-10) has me wondering just how many checks the alumni office will be receiving.

Across the country, athletic departments have recently put greater emphasis on winning and making money while losing sight of many of their best athletes.

Yes, money is important, especially in economic times like these. However, that does not change the fact that student-athletes should not face the consequences of a misguided athletic department and its poor choices.

So I as a get ready for my season of indoor track, I know the runners at Maryland will be doing the same.

The only difference is that they will be lacing up their spikes for what may very well be the final time.