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Stanford drops 11 sports to cut costs during pandemic

Virus Outbreak Stanford Cuts - AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Stanford announced Wednesday that it is dropping 11 sports amid financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The school will discontinue 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 after the 2020-21 academic year. Stanford also is eliminating 20 support staff positions.

Numerous schools have cut athletic programs in recent weeks as the pandemic shut down campuses. Stanford is believed to be the first Power Five school to eliminate any sports programs.

Stanford projected a deficit of more than $25 million in the 2021 fiscal year and a shortfall of nearly $70 million over the next three years due to the pandemic. The school estimated the cost of sustaining the 11 sports permanently would exceed $200 million.

The contracts of coaches in the 11 sports will be honored, as will the scholarships for the more than 240 athletes affected. All support staff who have been let go will get severance pay.

Stanford has one of the nation’s largest athletics departments, sponsoring 36 varsity sports before Wednesday’s cuts.

Earlier this year, football coach David Shaw, basketball coach Jerod Haase and members of the athletics executive team took voluntary pay cuts to help defray some of the financial hit caused by the pandemic.

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