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Stanford reverses decision to cut 11 sports

Standford University Athletes / JWS

Stanford, in an abrupt reversal, will not be cutting 11 varsity sports. 

“We’re pleased to be able to share today that Stanford will be continuing these 11 varsity sports,” Stanford wrote in a release. “We have made this decision based on an updated assessment of the financial viability of retaining all 36 teams, allowing all sports to remain competitive without detracting from our continued investments in our core research and teaching missions.”

The move comes after student-athletes from the 11 programs filed two lawsuits against Stanford in federal court last Wednesday, challenging the decision. In Tuesday’s release, the school acknowledged the lawsuits but maintained that they had nothing to do with the decision to reinstate the sports.

“Our discussions with 36 Sports Strong and other constituencies were already far along, and we reached the conclusion we are announcing today independent of their filing,” the statement read. “We were disappointed by these suits since it was well known that we were engaged in these discussions, and we are pleased to be embarking on a more positive path.”

As first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, coaches informed athletes of the reversal Tuesday morning.

After the university said it would cut more than a third of its varsity sports last July, a group called 36 Sports Strong formed with the intention of reversing the university’s decision. So far, it has received more than $50 million in pledges. When making its announcement last year, the university cited financial restraints as one of the primary reasons for the cuts.

The decision to reverse the cuts was reportedly prompted by “improvement in the financial investment markets over the last 10 months,” meaning that Stanford Athletics’ dedicated investments “are more strongly positioned and additional resources can be drawn from them to support athletics programs as private fundraising efforts ramp up.”

Among the sports to be reinstated are women’s fencing, field hockey, women’s sailing and synchronized swimming. Many of them had strong seasons, including Stanford field hockey, which made it all the way to the Elite Eight.