Stanford has announced it will not cut the 11 athletic programs (including sailing) that were targeted in a financial restructure outlined in July 2020. According to the New York Times the last-minute reprieve was announced within a week of the varsity teams’ expected demise, marking an end to the “battle between the university and the supporters of those sports.”
While students and coaches celebrated the news, many still expressed their disappointment at the university’s initial approach. Senior volleyball player Kyler Presho told the New York Times that it was hard to say why the university’s administrators had changed their minds, but that cutting the sports had created “a huge P.R. problem.” He added, “We were relentless in giving them every reason to reconsider and we just didn’t go away. In the end, hey, it worked.”
Stanford had cited the financial effects of COVID-19 as its motivation for cutting the 11 varsity sports, projecting a saving of $8 million for the athletics department. However many students were skeptical of this reasoning and did not believe the decision was based on finances. Rather than accepting the decision, in the months following the announcement current students, their parents, and college alumni actively fought to keep their faculties going.
Former Stanford volleyball player Jeremy Jacobs was instrumental in the funding push and led a “36 Sports Strong advocacy group” to support the 11 targeted programs, with the Times reporting Jacobs as saying the men’s volleyball program had secured pledges of over $7.7 million. And in March this year, students marched outside the school in protest of the planned cuts.
When Stanford announced its decision to keep funding the 11 sports on Tuesday, Jacobs broke the news to the volleyball team via videoconference. “‘We’re back,’ he told them. Players began to cheer and he began to cry.” He added, “‘This past year was a nightmare and we’re going to make sure this never happens again.’”
You can read the full report here.