19 May 2021
By Göran R Buckhorn
Stanford will not cut the 11 varsity sports that earlier was reported to be eliminated.
Stanford, California, announced yesterday that due to an “improved financial picture with increased fundraising potential”, the university has decided to reverse the decision to cut the 11 varsity sports that it earlier said should be eliminated, which HTBS wrote about on 14 May.
The Stanford Athletics Department wrote on its website yesterday: “Stanford leaders announced today that while the structural financial challenges facing Stanford Athletics remain very real, changed circumstances including newly galvanized philanthropic interest have provided a new path to support the 11 sports.”
Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement: “We have new optimism based on new circumstances, including vigorous and broad-based philanthropic interest in Stanford Athletics on the part of our alumni, which have convinced us that raising the increased funds necessary to support all 36 of our varsity teams is an approach that can succeed.”
Stanford has worked with 36 Sports Strong, which is a group of alumni who have been seeking to raise funds to support all 36 sports at Stanford.
Bernard Muir, director of the Athletics Department, wrote in a letter to the Stanford community that “we will need to ask for the support of the Cardinal faithful like never before”. He continued: “I am thrilled that we have found a way to continue sponsoring these varsity sports, which are an important part of the fabric of this university. I believe the future is extremely bright for Stanford Athletics and am eager to begin the important work of galvanizing our community and cementing Stanford’s position of leadership and excellence in intercollegiate sports.”
Stanford President Tessier-Lavigne said: “I want to acknowledge Bernard Muir and his executive team for their leadership. Bernard has been a staunch advocate for all student-athletes at every stage, both when we collectively faced the wrenching decision to discontinue sports, and as we have worked to construct this new path as circumstances changed for better. We look forward with him to a bright future for Stanford Athletics.”
Tessier-Lavigne also praised the 36 Sports Strong group: “I also want to acknowledge the 36 Sports Strong group, as well numerous other alumni and supporters, for their thoughtful outreach, philanthropic support and constructive partnership in envisaging a path forward.”
The 36 Sports Strong group was of course happy with the new decision taken by Stanford.
“Alumni and supporters rallied behind a different solution. The outpouring of goodwill energized this effort, combined with some truly innovative thinking to get us here,” said Adam Keefe, a representative of 36 Sports Strong and a Stanford alumnus. “I can’t say thank you enough. We appreciate the willingness of Athletic Director Muir and Stanford leadership to consider a new approach, and we’re excited to see what we’ll do together.”
Jenny Azzi, another representative of 36 Sports Strong and a former member of the Stanford women’s basketball team, said: “My heart is full of joy for the students who are getting their teams back. How they performed on and off the field represents the very best of Stanford. They deserve a lot of credit. And, as an Olympian myself, I hope Stanford’s action will inspire other NCAA schools in their continued support of their Olympic sports programs. I’m eager to see many Cardinal compete this summer, in Paris in 2024, and especially when we host the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028.”
The 11 teams, which will now continue to compete as varsity teams at Stanford, are: 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.