St. Francis Brooklyn cuts all college athletics, effective after 2023 season

The St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers have had a basketball team since 1896. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
The St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers have had a basketball team since 1896. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Monday was a sad day in college sports, as St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York, announced it would eliminate all of its athletics programs after the end of the 2023 spring semester.

Athletic director Irma Garcia wrote in a statement that the COVID-19 pandemic "left an indelible impact on St. Francis College, and as a result, Terrier athletics." Nineteen teams will be cut in total, but the school said it said it would honor all current academic and athletic scholarships despite the lack of programs.

"As we continue to compete this season, I ask that you pour love and positivity into our student-athletes," Garcia wrote. "They have worked all year to play at their highest level and I will be cheering them on until the bitter end."

Denis J. Salamone, chair of the school’s board of trustees, said in a statement that "increased operating expenses, flattening revenue streams, and plateauing enrollment due in part to a shrinking pool of high school graduates in the aftermath of COVID" were the main reasons for the decision to cut the sports teams.

"We want to acknowledge that SFC has a rich legacy in competitive athletics, and are proud of our Terriers today and in all years past," Salamone wrote. "This difficult decision was guided by a commitment to preserving the College’s 164-year Franciscan mission to provide a high quality and affordable education to working-class and first-generation students."

The men's basketball team — which was the oldest in New York City, founded in 1896 — was one of four original Division I teams to never make the NCAA tournament since 1948. The others are Army, William & Mary and The Citadel. St. Francis' last shot came in 2015, when the Terriers failed to qualify after they lost to Robert Morris in the Northeast Conference championship.

The women's basketball team made its tournament in 2015 but lost to top-seeded UConn 89-33 in the first round.

St. Francis in other sports

The Terriers men's soccer and water polo teams dominated their respective conferences.

The soccer team won an NEC-high nine titles — most recently in 2020 – and appeared in 10 NCAA tournaments. The water polo team won seven Eastern College Athletic Conference championships, 10 Collegiate Water Polo Association championships and four Eastern championships and qualified for the NCAA championships in 2005, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Women's soccer and men's volleyball were added to the college's athletics program in 2019.