Stanford cuts 11 varsity sports due to financial impact of coronavirus

Stanford cuts 11 varsity sports due to financial impact of coronavirus
© Getty Images

Stanford University, which has one of the largest Division I sports programs in the country, is cutting 11 of its varsity sports after the 2020-21 season, citing a financial deficit that became significantly more problematic due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Stanford will discontinue 11 of our varsity sports programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year: 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," the university said in a statement, describing the decision as "heartbreaking."

Stanford currently has 36 Division I varsity sports, double the national average. The institution explained that the size of its athletics program had created a financial strain in recent years.

ADVERTISEMENT

"A structural deficit emerged several years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. That deficit was projected to exceed $12 million in [fiscal 2021] and to grow steadily in the years ahead," Stanford explained. "The COVID-19 pandemic and associated recession have only exacerbated the gap; before these sport reductions, our revised forecasts indicated a best-case scenario of a $25 million deficit in FY21, factoring in the effects of COVID-19, and a cumulative shortfall of nearly $70 million over the next three years."

It also noted that it had explored many other alternative avenues to solve its financial situation, but "found them insufficient to meet the magnitude of the financial challenge."

Division I schools have welcomed back their athletes to campus this summer to prepare for the upcoming season, but many have been hit with rising COVID-19 cases. It's unclear how fall college sports, namely football, will conduct their seasons, if at all.

The Trump administration this week has doubled down on its desire for colleges nationwide to resume in-person instruction this fall, despite the resurgence of the pandemic. 

The U.S. on Tuesday reported 60,000 new COVID-19 cases — a record — according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.