Alumni Group Aims to Save 11 Stanford Sports

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Stanford University placed 11 sports on the chopping block amid the COVID-19 crisis, but an effort spurred by alumni to save those programs appears to be gaining traction.

According to the Stanford Daily student newspaper, university president Marc Tessier-Lavigne held a meeting with the alumni advocacy group 36 Sports Strong on Tuesday. 

“The purpose of the meeting was to ensure that their perspectives were heard,” a University spokesperson told the Stanford Daily, adding that Tessier-Lavigne felt “the group had a substantive and very informative exchange.” 

In July of last year, Stanford announced plans to eliminate 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 amid financial concerns caused by the pandemic. The move was met with backlash, however. 

Since the announcement, 36 Sports Strong has raised a reported $50 million in pledges and endowments to help fund the 11 sports programs. Tuesday’s meeting reportedly focused on the alumni group’s plans to raise money and self-endow the funding needed to ensure their continued existence. 

While the meeting didn’t result in any concrete action to save the discontinued sports, both sides are reportedly optimistic as dialogues continue.

“We believe President Tessier-Lavigne and the Board’s Athletics subcommittee are trying to lead an earnest effort to review the decision,” 36 Sports Strong spokesperson Jeremy Jacobs, a men’s volleyball alum, wrote in a statement. “We look forward to continuing the conversation about how this plan will work for Stanford students."

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