Stanford permanently eliminates 11 of its 36 varsity sports

Per their release, they are eliminating the following programs and are specifically citing COVID as the reason for the cuts

Stanford will discontinue 11 of our varsity sports programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year: 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.


Due to the escalating costs of operating such a large athletics department, a structural deficit emerged several years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. That deficit was projected to exceed $12 million in FY21 and to grow steadily in the years ahead. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated recession have only exacerbated the gap; before these sport reductions, our revised forecasts indicated a best-case scenario of a $25 million deficit in FY21, factoring in the effects of COVID-19, and a cumulative shortfall of nearly $70 million over the next three years. These projected deficits could become much greater if the 2020-21 sports seasons are suspended or altered due to COVID-19.


These 11 sports were decided upon after a comprehensive evaluation of all of our sports across a broad set of criteria and considerations, including, but not limited to:

  • Sponsorship of the sport at the NCAA Division I level
  • National youth and postgraduate participation in the sport
  • Local and national fan interest in the sport
  • Potential expense savings from the elimination of the sport
  • Incremental investments required to keep or put the sport in a position to achieve competitive excellence on the national level
  • History of the sport at Stanford
  • Prospects for future success of the sport at Stanford
  • Impact on gender equity and Title IX compliance
  • Impact on the diversity of our student-athlete population
  • Impact on the student-athlete experience across all sports, now and in the future

Keep in mind, this isn't just some private school cutting these sports. Stanford is literally the pinnacle of success for an overall Athletic Department's success

And if you're wondering if boosters are going to be able to bring them back through donations. Nope, these decisions are final and permanent.

This is going to send a shockwave through collegiate athletics and the reality we have coming out of COVID is going to be drastically different than the one we had going into it. Non Rev sports are on life support, and if someone like Stanford is slashing them for budgetary reasons, things are bound to get really ugly really quick.

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.


And in case you were wondering, not even their $27.7 billion endowment could save these sports.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Endowments keep getting mentioned and the reality is most of those funds are tied to specific things, very little goes into a general fund that can be used at the university's discretion.

EDIT: I'll drink for repeating what was already said later on in the thread

Hokies United l Ut Prosim


Really unfortunate to lose Stanford Fencing. They're sitting right on top of the best men's foil club in the world and one of their alums medaled twice in Rio.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

also seems like the ideal sport for an era of social distancing and mask requirements.

Not the bagman VT deserves, but the bagman VT needs right now.

TIL you can get an athletic scholarship for playing squash.

Actually you can't (Link), but Stanford still pays paid for all the coaches/trainers/gear/etc.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Interesting, thanks for the link.

TIL you can get an athletic scholarship for rifle shooting.

Yes and WVU is one of the best schools for this.

6 of the 11 have no NCAA National Champs

All 11 are "sponsored" by less than 20%ish of 350 D1 schools.

Will continue to see this happen where Universities are funding sports with minimal NCAA participation.

sports with minimal NCAA participation

This is a key point. Also I see that these sports removal will do little to affect Stanford's Director's Cup standing.

Edit: Except Wrestling.

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

$60k / year tuition (scholarships) will get after you.

I'd think we see similar actions from private schools with big tuition requirements.

these are definitely significant cuts that shouldn't be ignored or undersold.

having said that, having twice the average number of varsity sports really does set yourself up for some sort of regression to the mean -- it almost feels as if Covid-19 is the justification for cutting a squash program that they already might have wanted to cut because demand, impact, pull, etc wasn't there (see list of factors that went into the decision)

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

You hit the nail on the head.

Just like businesses used COVID-19 to trim fat and avoid the awkward conversations, Stanford used this time to make a difficult choice an easier pill to swallow.

I don't know...they won 25 straight Director's Cups. TWENTY FIVE. They pride themselves on that. Not sure they wanted to get rid of all of these and are using this as a convenience.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

I would be willing to bet these programs didn't find themselves on the chopping block within the last 6 months.

I am sure they are proud of the Director's Cups but I imagine they aren't millions of dollars proud.

I would definitely think they're wrestling program did. They've been rather good the last few years and even at least decent before that. They won the Pac12 last year and placed 2nd as well this year. I'm willing to bet wrestling was more of a COVID cut than anything along the lines of the recently cut ODU program.

Oh I definitely agree that they are using COVID as a convenient excuse to eliminate things they probably already had on the chopping block anyway, but at the end of the day, they are eliminating 31% of their sports. That's a huge chunk for a school that really isn't in financial peril with their $28b endowment, so it does sent up a huge warning that the tides of collegiate athletics are beginning to shift, and COVID is making that shift occur faster than planned.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Endowments are typically tied to specific expenditures. You can't necessarily gauge the financial stability based on the endowment, as silly as that sounds. Harvard has $42 bn and they're still facing some hardships because basically that money is 100% tied up in specific costs (scholarships, endowed faculty positions, etc).

Bingo. It's not a general fund.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

odd, then, that specific and targeted fundraising wouldn't be able to save any of these varsity sports

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

That was an odd statement in there...
Wonder if that has ANY tie to the state of Cali allowing athletes to use their likeness? Prob not, but there's a deeper something to it.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

this is correct but I'm going to add a caveat. Endowment money doesn't just sit in an account waiting for scheduled time of dispersement. Funds are managed and invested to earn additional income. That income is rarely tied up to specific items and Stanford's earnings over the last year alone could easily have saved these programs.

I don't see how Ice Hockey is going to still be viable for some schools at NCAA level with these cuts to other low participation NCAA sports.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Ice Hockey is equivalent to football at many of these schools, see All Minnesota State Schools that sponsor Hockey

Alabama Huntsville cut their program recently.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

Yeah, I mean at most of the major schools, hockey is one of, if not their biggest revenue sport. Maine will cut their football program before they put the knife to hockey.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

UConn was just in the news about budget cuts yet have men's and women's hockey, Arizona State has men's, we don't know because of state laws and private schools how BC, ND and PSU are doing financially. Just on of those high cost little return sports it seems.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

The Boston U's of the hockey world make good money, but what is that 5% of the total programs.

BC hockey is a big deal, even if its just regionally, that won't get sacrificed over say, BC men's soccer...

B1G ice hockey sponsorship is fairly new, less than a decade old. PSU is funded through Pegula (owner of the Sabres). Although their D1 status is new, the program has been around for almost a century.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

As of 2018, of the schools that actually reported numbers, the lowest earning D1 school in NCAA hockey, Brown University, pulled in an average of $33,000 in revenue per athlete. Most pull in over $100k per athlete. (total revenue for Brown was $923,806, whereas most pulled in over $2m, topping off with Boston U which pulled in over $8.5m)

Why the hell would any of these schools cut a program that actively brings in that kind of revenue, over sports that are purely overhead cost.

Hell, Arizona State reported hockey revenue of $3,384,188 for D1 in 2018, more than that of schools like Michigan, Boston College, Maine, Notre Dame, Miami Ohio, among others)

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Revenue is a number that is given before costs. So just because a sport brings in over 100k/athlete, if it costs them 200k/athlete in expenses, that's why. The link you had only showed revenue, so have no clue what the expenses are.

How is Arizona State making more profit off of Hockey than Tech does for men's basketball.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I'm sure the fault lies somewhere between our Nike contract, Curt Newsome, and ACC revenue sharing /s

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

FREAKING raycom deal

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Sorry, this may not be the most popular opinion on a sports-focused site - and it sucks in the short-term for the people impacted, but this is a net positive overall.

My views on the education-industrial complex are well voiced, but I will never stop until the education bubble has burst. US universities simply have to learn to cut costs like everyone else and live within their means. Endless tuition rises coupled with bottomless student loans backed by the government cannot go on indefinitely. Cutting sports programs is much better than cutting academic programs. Well, okay, some academic programs should be cut too. But the purpose of higher education needs to return to education that is focused on trying to get the bulk of the student body a successful career and a successful life without $120,000 of debt for a drama degree (actual person I saw interviewed). Extra-curricular activities that cost more than they bring in should be self-paid club sports or eliminated. All kinds of other things can and should be cut too (and I have no sympathy for the girl who was clueless enough to take on $120,000 of debt for a drama degree), but this is one place to start.

Hope that students who are on scholarship or partial scholarship are grandfathered in and get to keep them so the rug is not pulled out from under them. But stop the flow.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

What's your take on art, band, chorus, etc in grade and high school?

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

What is your next point going to be after you ask this question? What is your end goal of the discussion?

I think they are great for school children. I also think his point about these sports is crystal clear and I definitely agree. Are you going to say you can't have both thought processes?

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

I have no idea what this means lol.

jump to conclusions

Got it lol. So what was the goal. I was genuinely curious.

Edit: drinking

Depends upon how much you spend on them. Don't know too many art or band teachers making $6,000,000 a year or being the highest paid state employee. Last I saw the majority - and it was a large majority - of the states had a football or basketball coach as the highest paid state employee. My daughter is in the band and we pay an extra fee for her to be in it. Just like extra curricular activities like most of these sports should be.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

I don't know many band programs bringing in $30-60million a year and filling 100,000 seat arenas either.

Of the sports cut, don't you think those students are paying something? Equipment? Tuition? I know VT golf has like 2.5 scholarships or so for the entire team. A lot of sports are like that. You might get your books paid for, but that's about the extent of it (outside of travel.) The equipment a lot of times is personal as well. So in effect, the students participating in this are spending extra. Which can often times be very exclusionary to those that cannot afford it.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

True. You can keep the ones that bring in more revenue or close to it. As long as the salaries and costs are all paid by the program. Not so much for cricket. And I want to make university affordable so people of modest incomes who do not play a sport can afford it too.

By the way, this was from Business Insider. A couple of years old, but still good. Note how many of the highest salaries paid are for people not even there anymore.

ESPN published a report on the highest-paid public employee, which is someone paid by a state, county, or city institution. College athletic coaches dominated the list, often earning many times the salary of the state governor, probably the highest-profile public job.

Eight basketball coaches and 31 football coaches made the list, representing 39 out of 50 states.

Anyone who is not paid by the state โ€” like coaches for private colleges โ€” were excluded from the list, since salary data for a private employee is hard to come by. That means Duke basketball coach Mike "Coach K" Krzyzewski and Stanford football coach David Shaw โ€” the highest-earning college coaches in North Carolina and California, respectively โ€” don't appear on ESPN's list.

The salaries for the highest-paid public worker in every state range from $246,000 โ€” more than $50,000 above the highest salary for any governor โ€” to $11 million. ESPN points out that nine of the coaches who were the highest-paid in their state in 2017 no longer hold the same job.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

The whole "highest paid state employee" is misleading.

Most of the coach's salaries are paid by private donations to the Athletic Department, its not like the school/state is directly paying them $6M.

Hokies United l Ut Prosim

Agreed, came here to post this. To me, cutting non-revenue sports that create a net loss for the athletic department just makes smart business sense. If you can't support the sport from revenues generated by it, the cost has to be covered by pulling revenues from your sports which are profitable or going up on athletics and activity fees for students. Given how large conferences have become and escalating travel costs, it's hard to justify having so many program which can't support themselves. The expense for these shouldn't fall back on the students to support. They need to be club or IM activities for those interested and willing to pay extra to participate.

Uhhh they have more than enough money to keep these sports. They're well "within their means" lol.

They've just decided to spend this money on other things, like lawn care, new buildings, or paying their chancellor over a mil each year. (In other words the education-industrial complex you just alluded to).

You and I have similar opinions.

Maybe 8-10 years ago I was doing some work for a state flagship university in a state with a population probably in the bottom third. I was interviewing the chair of History dept and he told me they graduate something like a dozen PhD's every year. I thought to myself, if this school is graduating that many and the other two big state schools do similar, that's like 30 history PhD's entering the workforce every year.

Does a state with a relatively small population create 30 jobs every year for History PhD's? Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it. My guess is the Dept itself creates maybe one tenure track position a year, if that. And this is probably true for quite a few departments. Yet our higher education institutions continue to churn out far more doctorates than needed in many fields largely to justify their own existence.

I've got nothing against history or the teaching of it (in fact I wish we did a far better job of it at the primary and secondary levels). But at the higher educational levels, many academic endeavors - like many athletic ones - are often simply expensive exercises in self-enjoyment for young adults often ultimately on someone else's dime.

Undergrads in History typically go on to law school or a teaching career. At the PhD level, other than those who become authors or pursue careers in academia, you might be surprised how many there are in Government work - State Dept., Intelligence community, etc.

I don't quite understand, while the money in football and basketball is insane, that money isn't the universities money, it's the athletic department's. The only money that VT is allowed to give to the athletic department is the athletic fee that every student pays. It was like $150 or so when I was there. So it really has no affect on tuition costs

In addition, VTs library was paid for largely by the athletic department. So without athletics costs for students would have to have been raised to afford that. In addition, there are facilities that students get to use because of these athletic programs.

The purpose of higher education is only now about a career that was not a purpose to return too it's the new mission. College should not be training for a job/career, it minimizes what universities offer.

When I worked at a manufacturing plant I found out that the work crew required a college diploma (associates was accepted) The guys were painting the fences, cleaning up the trash around the facility, etc. Its insane to me to require some on spend money on education so they could paint a fence. Now the company would only hire internally for a lot of positions, so those work crews would move on and make a career earning great money, however non if the guys that were in those upper positions had degrees, one was illiterate. A college education is being used as barrier for so many jobs that it's insane. But college degree holders make more money than those who don't, they are also so much less likely to get disabled on the job. So of course everyone pays out the butt for a degree so that meet the minimum for a job that pays well enough.

The main reason college costs so much is that states have been defunding them for 30 years. These funds went directly to VT, not the AD.

In 1970 after taxes (standard deductuon) a person could pay for the average tuition, room, and board at a state school working ~19 hours a week at a minimum wage job. In 2015, you had to work ~43 hours.

Less funding and less wages make it a lot tougher for college to be affordable. Adding it as an entry criteria to jobs that pay better wages hurt even more. The fact that there is an athletic department with a separate budget and separate funding shouldn't even matter in the cost of college argument.

For anyone interested, the VT tuition, room & board and other fees for 2019-2020 can be found here

Section regarding the athletic fee

A portion of the university's athletic program operations is supported by the Athletic Fee. The
student fee revenue covers the costs of athletic administration and sponsoring intercollegiate
varsity sports that do not generate revenue. This fee entitles students to free admissions into
sporting events, while recognizing that student seating is limited thus not guaranteed. After
considering available resources, including incremental revenue from enrollment growth, a $9
increase in the Athletic Fee is recommended for 2019-20. This increase is needed to cover facility
and maintenance costs and inflationary pressures on non-revenue sports and activities. If
approved, the current $317 per year charge will be replaced by a $326 annual, or $163 per
semester, charge in the 2019-20 academic year. Based on the university's understanding, the
2019-20 Athletic fee recommendation is in compliance with ยง 23-1.2 of the Code of Virginia, which
limits the percentage share and annual growth of the student fee component of the overall
intercollegiate athletics budge.

I agree with most of what you say, right up until you say this:

The main reason college costs so much is that states have been defunding them for 30 years.

It's a lot more complex than that. More students go to college. Pay for professors and administrators have gone up. Colleges are run a lot more like businesses now. Also, part of the reason the cost of education in real terms has gone up BECAUSE of subsidies and government guarantees: costs rising to meet the available funding.

Student loans DO subsidize the costs, and are a huge reason that people can pay whatever tuition you want to charge.

Bingo. The federal government took on a much larger role in the student loan process in 2010. They also eliminated subsidized loans and increased interest rates for graduate students. Since that time, college tuition has increased by almost 30%.

"That's it guys. Let's get out of here. That cold drink's waitin' on us, let's go." - Mike Young after win no. 300.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

I have to believe all schools are thinking about this.

The current financial burden of college sports are untenable in the present form.

To mix metaphors, It's a house of cards, and the pandemic is going to pull the rug out from under it.

see if you can spot the coronavirus...

Oh it's there.

Invisible, but lurking just outside.

I seem to remember a rather "tOXic" post about this on VT Twitter not too long ago. Ha. Kidding aside, while this is borderline political in my view, I also think it is worthy of discussion as an issue that may very well impact VT soon. Sorry for the stream of consciousness post (stepping away from work for a moment) and props to everyone for keeping it civil. One of the reasons I love this place (99% of the time, anyway).

"That's it guys. Let's get out of here. That cold drink's waitin' on us, let's go." - Mike Young after win no. 300.

They will be honoring all student-athlete scholarships, fyi.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I mean, I don't want to discount the passion for competition and the sport, but a free Stanford education with none of the athletic obligations is NOT a bad consolation....