Stanford University has reversed the decision to cut 11 of its varsity sports programs. In an announcement on Tuesday, the school said the school backtracked in part because of "an improved financial picture with increased fundraising potential."
At the time of the original decision in July of 2020, the university received heavy backlash after it announced the following sports would be discontinued:
- Men's and women's fencing
- Field hockey
- Lightweight rowing
- Men's rowing
- Co-ed and women's sailing
- Synchronized swimming
- Men's volleyball
Stanford initially cited unspecified "serious and growing" financial challenges as the reason behind the mass disintegration, though there was a promise of honoring student-athlete scholarships, even to those who committed to the school for those programs. On Tuesday, the school said alumni rallied behind the cause to save the varsity programs.
"We have new optimism based on new circumstances, including vigorous and broad-based philanthropic interest in Stanford Athletics on the part of our alumni, which have convinced us that raising the increased funds necessary to support all 36 of our varsity teams is an approach that can succeed," Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said.
The original decision resulted in federal lawsuits from the athletes affected, as well as on-field protests such as blacking out the school's name and logo from uniforms.
The most notable example was championship wrestler Shane Griffith, who won a national championship in an all-black singlet and then also was seen wearing a hoodie that read "Keep Stanford Wrestling!"
Stanford's Shane Griffith has become a national champion after the school made the decision to cut its wrestling program.— ESPN (@espn) March 21, 2021
Griffith and teammates wore black singlets in the NCAA championships in response to the program being dropped.
That, of course, was on top of many outside groups questioning the financial evidence behind the decision.
Though Stanford is the biggest name of the bunch, it is still the latest school to reverse course on cutting numerous athletic programs. Other schools that have made similar reversals are William & Mary, Dartmouth and Bowling Green.