In the latest, and probably the most significant, of COVID-19 related cuts in collegiate athletics, Stanford University announced Wednesday that it was cutting 11 programs in response to a $25 million dollar projected deficit in the athletic department effective after the 2020-21 academic year.
The Cardinal will be cutting 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. Two hundred and forty student-athletes will see their programs cut, and 20 support staffers will also see their jobs cut. The contracts of coaches of programs cut will be honored, and student-athletes will be able to complete their education with their scholarships unaffected.
Stanford has been well known in collegiate athletics as the gold standard in excellence. While the football programs and men’s basketball programs haven’t been competing for championships (though those programs certainly more than hold their own) seemingly every Stanford program has achieved nothing short of excellence year in and year out both in success on the field and in the amount of resources that are generated and put into the programs.
While it is certainly an important cost-saving measure to keep Stanford afloat, the news is nothing short of jarring, particularly since Stanford is amongst some of the first to have as widespread a cut as the program has announced, and because of the excellence at Stanford. If collegiate athletics fans across the country take nothing else from this news, even the best and most financially stable programs in the country are going to be affected by the pandemic, even if major programs like football and men’s basketball go on with their seasons unaffected, an increasingly unlikely proposition.