Stanford cuts athletic programs; who will be next?

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

Stanford University, located in northern California, announced that it will cut eleven of its non-revenue athletic programs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Stanford had been supporting 36 varsity sports, many of which were not main revenue sports.

The sports that Stanford will eliminate are, as follows:

  • 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

This move will also cut twenty support staff positions and  affect more than 240 athletes. Stanford said it regretted the decision, but it was unavoidable due to the project revenue shortfall during  the pandemic. Stanford’s athletic department said that these programs’ legacies will be their 20 national championships and 27 Olympic medals.

Stanford also said that the school  will honor the current scholarship athletes for the upcoming 2020-2021 season and “throughout their undergraduate experiences at Stanford.” They offered severance pay to the support staffers who were fired and the university will honor the contracts of affected coaches. The eleven programs can transition to club status, the university noted.

Stanford is not the only university which supports multiple non-revenue sports as a part of its mission. Many large institutions have at least one non-revenue sport that it supports through its athletic department, such as swimming, volleyball, soccer, or tennis. In both a pandemic and  a post-pandemic world, it will be more difficult for non-revenue sports survive in higher education.