Stanford Announces Plan to Cut 11 Varsity Sports Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2020

FILE- In this March 14, 2019, file photo, people walk on the Stanford University campus beneath Hoover Tower in Stanford, Calif. The amount of free money you receive for college may decrease after your freshman year. To hang on to scholarships and grants, and avoid paying more for your education than you expected, understand the terms of your financial aid offer, contact your school’s financial aid office if your income changes and plan ahead for tuition increases.(AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

Stanford is planning to cut 11 varsity sports due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

University president Marc Tessier-Lavigne, provost Persis Drell and athletic director Bernard Muir announced the move Wednesday in an open letter.

"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 letter read.

The 11 sports are as follows:

  • men's fencing
  • women's fencing
  • field hockey
  • lightweight rowing
  • men's rowing
  • co-ed sailing
  • women's sailing
  • squash
  • synchronized swimming
  • men's volleyball
  • wrestling

Stanford said more than 240 student-athletes and 22 coaches made up the 11 teams. Collectively, the programs also won 20 national championships and saw their athletes win 27 Olympic medals.

The school said prior to the pandemic the athletics department was expected to run at a $12 million deficit for the 2021 fiscal year. That number had been updated to $25 million when factoring in the pandemic, and suspending any 2020-21 athletic seasons would further exacerbate the problem.

Stanford isn't the only school in a similar position. ESPN.com listed the numerous universities that have either cut certain sports or placed athletic employees on furlough to mitigate the financial ramifications. 

The pandemic already forced the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA basketball tournament and spring sports altogether. Universities across the country have also closed their campuses and transitioned to online learning.

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The upcoming fall season could be impacted as well.

With the number of cases showing few signs of a decline, the 2020 college football campaign could be in danger. Should the season kick off as scheduled in late August, schools would almost certainly have stadium with limited capacity or no fans altogether, thus losing out on revenue from ticket and concession sales.