BY ED MORAN
PHOTO BY SPORTGRAPHICS
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While the rest of the collegiate world is pondering the possibility of canceling their fall sports programs during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Stanford University made a stunning announcement Wednesday afternoon that the financial impact of the virus and campus shutdowns has resulted in the forced elimination of 11 varsity sports, including men’s rowing and lightweight women’s rowing.
The announcement was made during a Zoom call to student-athletes and staff by the Stanford athletic department and Stanford Board of Trustees. A detailed explanation of the actions is posted on the Stanford Athletics page.
The 11 programs cut include 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.
“We understand that the timing of this announcement, in early summer and against a backdrop of uncertainty and change across our country, is certainly far from ideal, as is the method by which we had to deliver the news to our student-athletes and coaches today, via Zoom,” the university wrote.
However, the cuts were “imperative to confront the financial challenge before it worsened, to undertake a deliberate and collaborative decision-making process with our Board of Trustees and campus leadership, and to exhaust all viable alternatives before making profound changes in our programs, especially during this difficult time.
“The decision to discontinue these 11 varsity sports programs comes down primarily to finances and competitive excellence. With so many varsity sports and limited financial resources, we would no longer be able to support a world-class athletics experience for our student-athletes without making these changes.”
The cuts will impact 240 student-athletes, 22 coaches, and will eliminate 20 staff positions from the athletic department. Stanford’s announcement also made clear that outside funding would not save the cuts from taking place.
“The decisions to reduce our sports offerings are final, and any future philanthropic interest in these sports may be directed towards supporting them at the club level, should they establish as a club sport after their 2020-21 varsity campaign,” the announcement stated.
“While Stanford Athletics has many tremendously generous donors, their support simply could not cover the escalating costs of ensuring excellence across the board in our 36-sport model.”
Stanford’s decision comes weeks after North Park University in Chicago, Illinois, and Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, eliminated their rowing programs.