Fight to save Stanford sports gains hope: School president to meet with alumni

After months of being stonewalled by Stanford administration, the group fighting to save the 11 sports slated for elimination suddenly has new hope.

On Tuesday, 36SportsStrong — the alumni group working to restore the targeted teams — will meet with university president Marc Tessier-Lavigne, at his request. The group has been told that the athletic subcommittee of the university’s board of trustees will consider its petition to save the sports. The board of trustees meets next week.

This is the first sign that Stanford is reconsidering its controversial decision.

“This is an encouraging development,” Jeremy Jacobs, the 36SportsStrong spokesman, told The Chronicle. “With all that we’ve learned since the cuts were announced it would be shocking if the decision was left in place. We’re looking forward to a discussion of how to reinstate the sports.”

In July, athletic director Bernard Muir abruptly announced Stanford would eliminate 11 varsity sports: 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. More than 240 current student athletes and 22 coaches, as well as dozens of recruits and thousands of alumni, were shocked. The decision came with no warning and no outreach to the Stanford community requesting fundraising help.

In the months since, Stanford has continued to paint the decision as one made out of financial necessity. Even this week, Tessier-Lavigne told the Chronicle, “It breaks our heart to have to deal with the difficult financial realities of the sports model.”

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