Stanford Announces Elimination of 11 Varsity Sports Programs, Citing Pandemic

Ruben Hill
July 9, 2020

The school went public with its decision in an open letter Wednesday. officially canceling the following programs: men's and women's fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men's rowing, co-ed and women's sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men's volleyball and wrestling.

Those programs will be discontinued "at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year". It also said Wednesday that it's eliminating the jobs of 20 support staff as part of the realignment.

According to the letter, Stanford Athletics was facing a growing budget deficit even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stanford will honor all existing athletic scholarship commitments to the student-athletes and the contracts of the coaches. The programs have led to 20 national championships and 27 Olympic medals.

In cutting those specific sports, the university pointed to fan interest, potential savings, diversity, history of the sport at Stanford and Title IX compliance, among other factors.

Stanford has announced it's eliminating 11 varsity sports programs after the 2020-21 academic year as a result of the financial crunch brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

You can probably count on one hand the amount of colleges and universities that have as impressive as athletic program across all sports as Stanford University. Stanford's 36 varsity sport offerings were the second-most in FBS, a model the school said was "not sustainable" financially.

"While painful, the discontinuation of these 11 sports at the varsity level and the associated reductions in our support staff will create a path for Stanford Athletics to return to fiscal stability while maintaining gender equity and competitiveness", the letter read. The school estimated the cost of sustaining the 11 sports permanently would exceed $200 million.

"We will do everything we can to support the student-athletes, coaches and support staff members affected by this decision", the letter read.

The university cites ongoing financial challenges for the cuts, saying that athletic programs have been under review since before the pandemic began.

The school says it was already anticipating a $12 million deficit in 2021. and the pandemic increased its expectation to a $25 million loss. forcing the cuts. That includes altering "competition schedules and travel plans" for the upcoming year.

"While Stanford may be perceived to have limitless resources, the truth is that we do not", the school says.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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