Stanford University announces 11 sports programs being cut

Stanford University announced on Wednesday that it will be cutting 11 of its 36 varsity sports programs after the 2020-21 academic year because of a growing budget deficit.

The 11 sports are 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.

Stanford officials said it is unsustainable to continue to support 36 programs. The total funding needed to permanently sustain the 11 affected sports at a national varsity level exceeds $200 million.

Stanford’s budget deficit for the 2021 fiscal year is projected to exceed $12 million and will continue to rise in the coming years, according to the university. Without the cuts to athletics and other revisions, the deficit was projected to exceed $25 million and grow to $70 million in the next three years.

Fiscal constraints had been growing before the COVID-19 pandemic, though the economic impacts of the virus have exacerbated the gap.

The Stanford University Board of Trustees said they have looked at a plethora of options to increase revenue like ticket sales, broadcast revenue, philanthropic support, and pay decreases for staff.

Already, some university athletics staff like head football and basketball coaches have taken voluntary pay reductions. The university also plans on making budget cuts of up to 10 percent across all academic and administrative units.

The decision to cut the affected sports was based on sponsorship of the sport at the NCAA Division I level, national participation and interest in the sport, potential expense savings, the history of the sport at Stanford, the impact on gender equity and diversity and the impact on the student-athlete experience, according to the university.

In terms of national sponsorship, six of the 11 affected programs — lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash and synchronized swimming — are not NCAA-sponsored championship sports.

The affected programs consist of more than 240 student-athletes and 22 coaches. Twenty support staff will be losing their positions, which will represent a 10 percent reduction in the athletics workforce, according to Stanford University.

The university said it will honor all existing students’ athletics scholarships and coaches’ contracts as well as provide laid-off coaches with severance pay.

The teams will be allowed to compete in the upcoming school year, contingent on COVID-19 restrictions, before they are discontinued at the varsity level. The affected sports will have the option to transition to a club team in the following year.

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