Stanford to cut 11 varsity teams in cost-saving move

Stanford will eliminate 11 varsity teams as its athletic department seeks to reduce financial losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” university officials wrote in a letter Wednesday to the campus community.



The cuts will take effect at the end of the 2020-21 academic year. Affected 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 Campus
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Those programs have won 20 of Stanford’s 123 NCAA championships, the most in history.

After the cuts, Stanford will have 25 varsity programs.

The athletic department was projected to have a deficit of more than $12 million in the 2021 fiscal year even before the pandemic halted college athletics in March.

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,” the letter read. “These projected deficits could become much greater if the 2020-21 sports seasons are suspended or altered due to COVID-19.”



The impacted teams will can continue on as clubs, and Stanford said all student scholarships and coaching contracts will be honored. The university also will pay severance to the 20 support staff employees who will lose their jobs amid the cutbacks.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

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