STANFORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Stanford University announced Wednesday that it is reducing its varsity athletics programs and staffing at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.
Stanford will discontinue 11 of its varsity sports programs: 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. Additionally, 20 support staff positions are being eliminated as part of this realignment.
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"For a program of Stanford's reputation caliber to cut a third of their varsity programs in one day, that's stunning that hasn't happened anywhere else in the country," said Collin Sherwin, Deputy College Sports Editor for Draft Kings Nation.
Stanford's head wrestling coach Jason Borrelli tweeted, "Nothing like a little adversity and a good challenge. First, we will listen to understand why. Then we will strategize and prepare for the battle! A Change.org petition is already in the works to help save the program."
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Wrestler Gabriel Townsell just graduated from Stanford and worries for his friends who are still students there whose careers will be cut short by the cuts.
"It's heartbreaking for me because I know that I needed to be able to finish my career. Wrestling was something that gave me solace, an escape from the real world like I said I'm from the West Side of Chicago," said Townsell.
In 2019 Stanford's endowment was $28 Billion dollars but its statement outlined financial hardship in supporting one of the largest athletics departments in the country.
The university projects a $70 million shortfall over the next few years, a number that was already growing before COVID-19 and now made worse by the pandemic.
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Stanford says teams will be able to complete the upcoming season if COVID-19 allows it.
Student-athlete scholarships will also be honored should they choose to remain at Stanford for their undergraduate years.
However, 20 support staff will be losing their jobs.
"Our goal is to provide excellent support and a world-class experience for our student-athletes in the sports that we offer," said Stanford in a statement. "Over time, however, providing 36 varsity teams with the level of support that they deserve has become a serious and growing financial challenge. We now face the reality that significant change is needed to create fiscal stability for Stanford Athletics, and to provide the support we believe is essential for our student-athletes to excel."
Here's Stanford's full announcement.