Stanford University, facing a $70 million shortfall over the next three years because of the coronavirus pandemic and the financial demands of supporting 36 varsity sports, said Wednesday it planned to cut 11 sports next year, including men’s volleyball, wrestling and rowing.
The university said in a statement detailing the decision that the teams to be cut have 240 athletes and 22 coaches. The teams will have a chance to compete in the 2020-21 academic year, if health conditions allow it, before being discontinued.
Stanford attributed the budget shortfall to the demands of having 36 teams, calling the financial model “unsustainable” for keeping them all.
“We have calculated that the total incremental funding needed to permanently sustain these 11 sports at a nationally competitive varsity level exceeds $200 million,” the university said.
Stanford is not the first university to cut teams since the pandemic began. Akron, for instance, cut men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis, while Furman eliminated baseball and lacrosse. Brown, an academic powerhouse like Stanford, is planning to demote eight teams to club status, though it insisted the pandemic was not to blame.
In an interview late last month, Mark Emmert, the president of the N.C.A.A., predicted that health concerns, the pandemic’s financial repercussions or both would prompt schools to drop teams or curtail seasons.
“Some schools are having to make decisions around one or both of those, and sadly, I do think that we’ll see more of them,” said Emmert, who previously led Louisiana State and Washington and said he was “afraid and confident in my fear that we’ll see more sports be dropped, whether it’s programs or entire seasons canceled.”
Nationwide, college athletic departments have begun to impose significant budget cuts, and more schools are expected to turn to layoffs, program eliminations, furloughs and lower salaries, especially if the pandemic proves even more protracted.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
Alan Blinder contributed reporting.