Stanford reverses decision, will not cut 11 sports teams thanks to donor interest

·2 min read

Stanford will not discontinue 11 varsity sports programs at the end of this academic year after facing wide criticism from alumni and fans.

"Galvanized philanthropic interest" paved the way for the sports to remain part of the 36 Cardinal teams, the school said Tuesday. A large-scale fundraising effort by the athletic department will be required.

"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 president Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement.

The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the news of the reinstatements.

Stanford has found a way to keep all of its varsity sports programs intact.
Stanford has found a way to keep all of its varsity sports programs intact.

Stanford's decision last July to discontinue 11 programs due to the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was met with immediate pushback from alumni who competed for the Cardinal, including those whose sports wouldn't have been chopped.

A powerful group called "36 Sports Strong" formed and met with campus leadership to advocate for the teams' survival and also staged protests, all while conducting a strategic social media push. More than 5,000 people signed an online petition supporting the group's efforts.

"Champions persevere, and they find new ways to win. That’s what Stanford has done here," the group leadership said in a statement Tuesday. "Facing challenges, Stanford and its alumni have come together to build a solution that will cement its status as the best athletics department in the country."

Wrestler Shane Griffith's NCAA title helped bring the issue back in the spotlight in March. Wrestling, in addition to men’s volleyball, women’s field hockey, men’s and women’s fencing, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash and synchronized swimming were the sports that would have been affected.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Stanford sports reverses previous decision and will not cut 11 teams