An open up letter to the Stanford group and the Stanford Athletics household

An open letter to the Stanford community and the Stanford Athletics family

Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President
Persis Drell, Provost
Bernard Muir, Director of Athletics

Just one of Stanford’s fantastic sources of satisfaction is our intercollegiate athletics system. Around the program of our storied background, as a result of innumerable times of problem, triumph and joy, our pupil-athletes have set the conventional for remarkable accomplishment in the two lecturers and athletics. Cheering on the Cardinal is an integral part of lifestyle at Stanford, and the determination and dedication of our college student-athletes provide as an inspiration for admirers and followers nicely further than The Farm.

As you may perhaps know, Stanford at the moment provides a lot more varsity athletics than nearly each other Division I college in the country. Our purpose is to give great guidance and a entire world-class knowledge for our university student-athletes in the athletics that we give. More than time, even so, offering 36 varsity teams with the degree of assist that they are worthy of has grow to be a critical and rising fiscal challenge.

We now face the truth that sizeable adjust is needed to make fiscal stability for Stanford Athletics, and to offer the assist we imagine is vital for our pupil-athletes to excel.

In that context, we are crafting these days with some particularly difficult news. In consultation with the Board of Trustees, we have created the decision to reduce the breadth of our athletics courses and staffing. Stanford will discontinue 11 of our varsity athletics plans at the conclusion of the 2020-21 tutorial calendar year: men’s and women’s fencing, subject hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling. All of these groups will have the chance to contend in their impending 2020-21 seasons, must the situations surrounding COVID-19 allow it, prior to they are discontinued at the varsity degree. Regretfully, 20 of our support workers positions are getting removed as component of this realignment.

This is heartbreaking news to share. These 11 programs consist of extra than 240 outstanding student-athletes and 22 devoted coaches. They had been built by more than 4,000 alumni whose contributions led to 20 countrywide championships, 27 Olympic medals, and an untold quantity of educational and expert achievements. Each and every of the people involved with these programs will endlessly have a location in Stanford’s record.

We will do almost everything we can to assistance the scholar-athletes, coaches and assist employees members affected by this selection. We will honor all present athletics scholarship commitments to the university student-athletes through their undergraduate encounters at Stanford, and we hope they choose to continue to be on The Farm and get paid their Stanford degrees. Really should any scholar select to proceed their collegiate athletics profession in other places, nevertheless, we will help them in each and every way possible. The contracts of afflicted coaches will be honored, and any aid workers whose work is ending will be presented with severance pay back. All of the impacted sporting activities will have the prospect to transition to club standing soon after they conclude their 2020-21 varsity year.

We realize that the timing of this announcement, in early summer and in opposition to a backdrop of uncertainty and alter throughout our nation, is unquestionably much from perfect, as is the strategy by which we experienced to supply the information to our pupil-athletes and coaches currently, by way of Zoom. On the other hand, we felt it was imperative to confront the fiscal problem in advance of it worsened, to undertake a deliberate and collaborative determination-building system with our Board of Trustees and campus leadership, and to exhaust all solutions in advance of building profound variations in our systems, primarily through this tough time. That process has not too long ago occur to conclusion, and we desired to share the news as quickly as probable in get to offer our student-athletes and team with as much adaptability and selection as feasible. Offered the timing, we decided that featuring these 11 courses the chance for just one ultimate season of varsity competition in 2020-21 was the suitable detail to do.

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Underneath, we would like to deliver a lot more data about the economical obstacle at the rear of this selection, how the 11 sporting activities had been chosen and what the long term holds for varsity athletics at Stanford.

Money sustainability & aggressive excellence

The final decision to discontinue these 11 varsity sporting activities courses comes down primarily to funds and aggressive excellence. With so numerous varsity athletics and minimal fiscal resources, we would no for a longer period be in a position to guidance a environment-class athletics experience for our university student-athletes without having making these adjustments.

  • The money model supporting 36 varsity sports is not sustainable. The ordinary Division I athletics application sponsors 18 varsity sporting activities. In actuality, only just one college at the Division I FBS stage sponsored extra varsity sporting activities than Stanford prior to this improve, and that institution does so with a noticeably much larger spending plan. Quite a few of our friends at the Electric power 5 stage are supported by budgets that are a lot greater than ours whilst running much much less sporting activities. Stanford’s additional than 850 varsity university student-athletes currently stand for 12% of our undergraduate populace, a far increased share than exists at almost all of our peer institutions.
  • Due to the escalating costs of running these kinds of a significant athletics office, a structural deficit emerged a number of decades prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. That deficit was projected to exceed $12 million in FY21 and to expand steadily in the a long time forward. The COVID-19 pandemic and involved economic downturn have only exacerbated the hole ahead of these activity reductions, our revised forecasts indicated a greatest-case scenario of a $25 million deficit in FY21, factoring in the consequences of COVID-19, and a cumulative shortfall of almost $70 million about the following 3 years. These projected deficits could turn into much greater if the 2020-21 athletics seasons are suspended or altered owing to COVID-19.
  • We have investigated a broad variety of possibilities – ticket sales, broadcast earnings, college funding, philanthropic guidance, running funds reductions and quite a few other people – and discovered them inadequate to meet up with the magnitude of the monetary obstacle just before us. When Stanford may be perceived to have limitless methods, the fact is that we do not. In common, Athletics has been a self-sustaining entity on our campus, and we are striving to preserve that product in a time when budgetary assist for our academic mission is previously under sizeable strain. Educational and administrative models across the university presently have been organizing spending plan cuts of up to 10% in response to the university’s constrained methods as a outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. The broad the vast majority of Stanford’s endowment is directed towards distinct very long-phrase uses, which includes will need-dependent monetary help for students, and is not readily available to backfill an ongoing structural spending budget deficit in a certain division. In addition, even though Stanford Athletics positive aspects from a robust local community of generous supporters, their philanthropy simply could not go over the escalating costs of guaranteeing excellence throughout the board in our 36-sport product.
  • More than the earlier various months, Stanford Athletics has carried out considerable price-conserving steps. Our total Athletics executive crew and a selection of our head coaches, together with our head football and basketball coaches, have taken voluntary spend reductions. We are decreasing activity and administrative working budgets to the best extent achievable, which include altering our competitors schedules and travel programs for the approaching academic calendar year. Furthermore, the assistance employees layoffs announced these days represent a 10% reduction in our Athletics workforce. Even implementing all of these actions, nevertheless, we will need to have to entry our restricted reserve funds to bridge us by means of the latest economic downturn and the acute near-phrase impacts the pandemic will have on our earnings resources.
  • We have calculated that the full incremental funding necessary to completely sustain these 11 athletics at a nationally competitive varsity degree exceeds $200 million. There are other sizeable fundraising priorities throughout the college and within Athletics. In point, even immediately after recognizing the full expense cost savings resulting from this choice, closing the remaining Athletics structural deficit and ensuring the ongoing results of our remaining 25 varsity athletics will by itself demand garnering means that exceed that total, and we are fully committed to that endeavor.
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The key option to this choice would have been a wide and deep reduction in guidance for all 36 of our varsity sports, which includes the elimination of scholarships and the erosion of our efforts to bring in and retain the superior-caliber coaches and personnel needed to supply an unparalleled scholar-athletics practical experience. Soon after thinking of the results of this product, we determined that running our varsity athletics plans in this method would be antithetical to Stanford’s values and our willpower to be superb in all that we do.

Although agonizing, the discontinuation of these 11 sports activities at the varsity amount and the related reductions in our support staff will make a route for Stanford Athletics to return to fiscal steadiness whilst maintaining gender equity and competitiveness. It will ultimately enrich the encounter of the remaining scholar-athletes and boost their likelihood of competing for national championships for many years to arrive. We continue being steadfastly fully commited to excellence in varsity athletics and, in fact, Stanford will proceed to maintain 1 of the maximum scholar-athlete to undergraduate college student entire body ratios in the country, with practically 9% of the undergraduate university student system continuing to take part in varsity athletics further than the 2020-21 educational 12 months.

Why these 11 sporting activities?

These 11 sports have been made the decision on immediately after a complete evaluation of all of our sporting activities across a wide set of criteria and concerns, which includes, but not restricted to:

  • Sponsorship of the sport at the NCAA Division I level
  • National youth and postgraduate participation in the activity
  • Area and national lover interest in the activity
  • Possible expense cost savings from the elimination of the sport
  • Incremental investments needed to hold or set the sport in a situation to obtain aggressive excellence on the nationwide degree
  • Historical past of the sport at Stanford
  • Prospects for foreseeable future achievement of the sport at Stanford
  • Effect on gender equity and Title IX compliance
  • Impression on the diversity of our pupil-athlete populace
  • Effect on the university student-athlete practical experience across all sporting activities, now and in the long run
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For case in point, simply on the lookout at sponsorship of the sporting activities at a nationwide degree as a single thought:

  • Of the 11 sports activities getting discontinued, 6 (lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming) are not NCAA-sponsored championship sporting activities.
  • All 11 sports being discontinued are sponsored by considerably less than 22% of the additional than 350 Division I institutions, and 9 (men’s and women’s fencing, light-weight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball) are sponsored by fewer than 9%.
  • There are only two other Division I subject hockey applications on the West Coastline, and there are no other fencing, lightweight rowing, sailing, squash or synchronized swimming systems on the West Coast.

Many of these athletics at the moment compete without having a whole complement of scholarships (e.g. wrestling), coaches and assets. After cautious examination, we concluded there was no real looking path to making sure that they have all of the resources needed to compete at the optimum stage with out hindering our capacity to help our other 25 varsity athletics.

All of the impacted sports activities will have the option to contend at the club level soon after their forthcoming varsity seasons are full, assuming enough university student interest, but will require to do so in a fiscally self-sustaining manner that makes sure the security and well-currently being of the members. We will immediately start out operating with the student-athletes, mothers and fathers, alumni and supporters of these sports activities to operate towards offering robust chances for participation at the club amount.

The long run of Stanford Athletics

Today’s announcement provides the 3 of us fantastic sadness, even though we know ours is nowhere close to the amount of discomfort and disappointment that our college student-athletes, mother and father, alumni and supporters of the impacted sports are going through.

We continue being dedicated to a solid and vivid varsity athletics plan at Stanford, and we are assured that these alterations will placement Stanford Athletics, and our remaining 25 varsity courses, for sustained excellence and leadership in athletics, lecturers and education and learning by means of activity. Our commitment to diversity and gender equity in athletics also stays firmly in spot and is supported by this determination.

Far more information and facts about the challenges we have talked over in this article is accessible at Thank you for studying, and for people of you who are component of the Stanford Athletics family members, thank you for your steadfast commitment to the success and very well-becoming of our university student-athletes.

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About the Author: Warwick Clark

Explorer. Communicator. Introvert. Typical problem solver. Devoted writer. Unapologetic coffee advocate.

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