Stanford Faces Two Lawsuits for Decision to Cut Sports


Eliminating men’s volleyball, men’s and women’s fencing, women’s lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, field hockey, squash, synchronized swimming, wrestling and coed and women’s sailing will save the athletic department $8 million, the college has said. Those sports have won a combined 20 national championships and produced 27 Olympic medalists.

The decision, announced last July, has galvanized athletes from all 36 teams for which Stanford fields teams and dozens of prominent alumni, including former football players like Andrew Luck and Senator Cory Booker, the basketball player Jennifer Azzi, the gymnast Kerri Strug, the Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Mussina, the golfer Michelle Wie West, the swimmer Janet Evans, the soccer player Julie Foudy and the softball player Jessica Mendoza.

When Stanford wrestlers competed in the N.C.A.A. championships in March, they wrestled in black singlets without the university logo as a form of protest. After the sophomore Shane Griffith won the 165-pound national championship, he wore a “Keep Stanford Wrestling” hoodie.

Still, despite the broad range and considerable influence of the athletes’ support, Stanford has not budged on its decision — even after Marc Tessier-Lavigne, the university president, met in April with leaders from 36 Sports Strong, the alumni group that is trying to compel the school not to cut the 11 sports. The group raised pledges of $40 million to help endow the teams on the chopping block.

“Eight million for Stanford is what they find under the cushions in the president’s office,” Jeffrey Kessler said, referring to the yearly savings the university would realize from eliminating the 11 sports. Kessler, a lawyer, said athletes he represents were duped into attending Stanford without knowing the university would drop their sports.



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