Stanford University on Wednesday announced it will discontinue 11 varsity sports programs at the end of the 2020-21 academic year, according to an open letter from university officials.
Citing financial challenges, Stanford said the following sports will be discontinued: 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.
Olympic fencing medalist Alexander Massialas, a 2016 Stanford graduate and San Francisco native, reacted to the news on Twitter.
"I'm in shock and a bit of disbelief, but I'll fight to save Stanford Fencing," said Massialas, who won a silver in the individual foil and a bronze in the team event at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The university also said 20 support staff positions in the Athletics Department would be cut.
"This is heartbreaking news to share," the letter stated. "These 11 programs consist of more than 240 incredible student-athletes and 22 dedicated coaches. They were built by more than 4,000 alumni whose contributions led to 20 national championships, 27 Olympic medals, and an untold number of academic and professional achievements. Each of the individuals associated with these programs will forever have a place in Stanford’s history."
Stanford Athletics consists of 36 varsity sports programs, and university officials said a $12 million budget deficit that existed before the coronavirus pandemic has only been exacerbated by the associated restrictions and economic recession. The university's letter said that deficit likely would rise to $25 million by fiscal year 2021.
The letter was co-authored by university President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Persis Drell and Athletics Director Bernard Muir.
The affected programs and their athletes will be able to compete during the coming academic year, and the university will honor all scholarships under those programs, the letter said.
All the sports impacted by the cuts will have an opportunity to compete at the club level after the 2020-21 year concludes, Stanford officials said. Those club-level programs typically are financed by athletes and their supporters and not the university.
For more details on the cuts, visit the Stanford Athletics FAQ web page.