Update on sport discontinuations
A message from Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Persis Drell and Director of Athletics Bernard Muir.
Dear Stanford community,
Last July, we made the difficult decision at Stanford to discontinue 11 of our 36 varsity athletics teams at the end of this academic year. The decision was prompted by a growing structural budget deficit in Stanford Athletics and our judgment that reducing our total number of sport offerings was an unavoidable part of the solution.
We’re pleased to be able to share today that Stanford will be continuing these 11 varsity sports. We have made this decision based on an updated assessment of the financial viability of retaining all 36 teams, allowing all sports to remain competitive without detracting from our continued investments in our core research and teaching missions.
The financial challenges facing Stanford Athletics are still very real. But we have new optimism based on new circumstances, including significantly improved fundraising potential in support of our athletics programs and improvement in the financial investment markets.
In recent months, we and the university’s development professionals have heard from and engaged with groups of Stanford alumni who have demonstrated new, vigorous and broad-based philanthropic interest in Stanford Athletics. Many individuals have stepped up to pledge funds in support. Our interactions have included highly constructive discussions with the 36 Sports Strong group, which has helped further galvanize this interest among alumni.
These activities coincided with improvement in the financial investment markets over the last 10 months. This recovery means that Stanford Athletics’ dedicated endowments, including the independently managed DAPER Investment Fund, are more strongly positioned and additional resources can be drawn from them to support athletics programs as private fundraising efforts ramp up.
The changing conditions led us to re-evaluate the potential to raise the increased funds necessary to support all 36 teams. Based on the circumstances now before us, we believe such an approach can succeed.
To support all 36 varsity teams we will need to ask for the support of the Cardinal faithful like never before. As our original decision last summer reflected, competing in today’s collegiate athletic landscape is increasingly expensive, and it is especially so with Stanford’s unusually large number of teams, which is twice the NCAA Division I average. We will need to continue to engage in a historic fundraising campaign to generate support for Stanford Athletics.
We hope that many in the extended Stanford family will be inspired to be a part of this effort.
It’s worth noting that, while we were aware of two lawsuits filed on this subject last week, our discussions with 36 Sports Strong and other constituencies were already far along, and we reached the conclusion we are announcing today independent of their filing. We were disappointed by these suits since it was well known that we were engaged in these discussions, and we are pleased to be embarking on a more positive path.
Discontinuing 11 sports was a wrenching decision that we enacted with the greatest reluctance. We are pleased now to be on a path to achieve fiscal sustainability for Stanford Athletics while preserving opportunities for all of our student-athletes, and while simultaneously advancing the many other priorities important to the university and its mission. Thank you, and go Cardinal!
Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President
Persis Drell, Provost
Bernard Muir, Director of Athletics