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Stanford will cut 11 sports, becoming latest school to trim costs during coronavirus pandemic

Stanford's synchronized swimming program is one of the 11 sports to get the ax.
Stanford's synchronized swimming program is one of the 11 sports to get the ax.Tom Strickland/Associated Press

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.

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.

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

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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.

Locally, two schools have made the decision to cut programs, but both said the reasons weren’t related to the coronavirus.

Brown originally cut 11 Division 1 sports before bringing three – men’s indoor track, outdoor track, and cross country – back to varsity status after alumni lobbied against the change, citing its negative effect on the diversity of student-athletes at the Ivy League institution.

UMass Dartmouth cut eight of its Division 3 sports, effective immediately, on July 1. The school said in a press release that “multiple reviews over the past decade” evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the school’s offerings.

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