Why Stanford will cut 11 varsity sports programs

Fencing, field hockey, sailing, squash, synchronized swimming and wrestling among teams being cut
By: | July 8, 2020
More than 240 students-athletes and 22 coaches participate in the 11 sports Stanford University plans to cut at the end of the 2020-21 school year.(GettyImages/Easyturn)More than 240 students-athletes and 22 coaches participate in the 11 sports Stanford University plans to cut at the end of the 2020-21 school year.(GettyImages/Easyturn)

Financial constraints have convinced Stanford University’s leaders to eliminate 11 of its 36 varsity sports programs, including fencing, field hockey, sailing, squash and wrestling.

The 2020-21 academic year will be the last for these teams should the COVID-19 outbreak eases enough to allow competition.

Also slated to be cut are lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, synchronized swimming and men’s volleyball, Stanford president, provost and athletics director announced Wednesday.

More than 240 students-athletes and 22 coaches participate in those sports.


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“Providing 36 varsity teams with the level of support that they deserve has become a serious and growing financial challenge,” they wrote. “We now face the reality that significant change is needed to create fiscal stability for Stanford athletics, and to provide the support we believe is essential for our student-athletes to excel.

The average Division I college or university fields 18 varsity teams. Stanford leaders said its athletics deficit of $12 million had become apparent prior to the COVID-19 outbreak this spring.

But forecasts showed the pandemic and associated recession could have created a $70 million over the next three years.

Leaders chose to cut these 11 teams for several reasons, including youth participation in the sport, the impact on gender equity and Title IX compliance and lack of NCAA sponsorship.

As of the end of June, about 36 Division I teams, 54 Division II teams and 31 Division III teams had been dropped by colleges and universities, according to an Associated Press report.


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