Updated 8/1: GW: Men’s Rowing Cut as University Efforts Streamline GW Athletics; we will post more information as available. GW FAQ
Over the past two months, rowing has seen six (now seven as of July 31) rowing programs be cut at their universities, a few of them highly successful and even storied programs.
At some of the programs, there is a strong feeling that the cuts can be reversed; at Stanford, for example, alum Christine Cavallo has expressed that the decision about cutting rowing did not include members of the rowing community and other affected stakeholders, and that there is a strong case to be made that cutting rowing does not align with the university's stated and assumed values.
Find below synopses of the current situation at the six programs that have been cut, posted in the order of announcement of the cuts. The Ohio Wesleyan, North Park, and Dartmouth light men's cuts are effective immediately; the UConn and Stanford cuts are to take effect at the end of the 2021 spring season.
Over time, we have seen that although reversing program cuts can be helped by outside interest and involvement, it is usually actions by directly affected stakeholders such as students and alums - and especially financial commitments - that carry the most weight and can move the needle. That said, we have still included resources on how the rowing community can help as possible.
The domino effect is of concern to the entire sport; as one interested party wrote to me, "this decision really gives cover to many other schools to make similar decisions with their rowing programs. If this year goes on without sports as it looks like it may, teams will be in trouble. I don't think that women's programs can rely on the fact they provide title nine balance anymore, as you saw with UConn.
"I also want people to know that these decisions are always reversible. There are many examples of teams being reinstated in the past. While the departments certainly want it to look like the decision is final, we know this is worth fighting for, and we are prepared to fight. Anyone who's ever been down in a race and come through to win knows we just need to get a little traction and take back those first few inches. We can do it."
We have sent inquiries to folks at Ohio Wesleyan and North Park, but have not heard back as of this posting and did not want to hold up getting most of this information out. We will update this report if and when more info becomes available.
On May 18, the the varsity rowing program was cut as part of a $10 million budget cut. The 2019-2020 season roster showed 14 student-athletes.
UConn announced on June 24 that it was cutting four programs - men's cross country, women's rowing, men's swimming & diving and men's tennis: UConn Announces Changes To Division Of Athletics.
While program cuts were known to be possible in the days before the announcement, it was thought that women's programs would be spared due to Title IX laws. Women's rowing was the only women's program that was cut.
According to some reporting, Title IX considerations may support a case for keeping the rowing program: The UConn women's rowing coach thought her program was safe because of Title IX. Now she's trying to save the team following budget cuts.
UConn has said it will honor the scholarships of students in the affected programs.
UConn coach Jennifer Sanford cautions other coaches to be proactive toward participating in any discussion regarding their sport.
"I would recommend to every head coach of men or women's program, to schedule a meeting with AD and directly ask if this is something being considered at their Institution and if so, please work WITH the coach to come up with a solution that doesn't involve cutting the program," she said. "If they resist that meeting, persist. Don't sit back and hope you'll be ok, try to be a part of the process."
Interested parties are encouraged to write a hard copy letter to the AD, the Board of Trustees, and the President of the university.
See more at:
- 'Long-standing Challenges': Deficits Push UConn To Ax Women's Rowing, Other Athletic Programs.
- Baldwinsville's Alena Criss left with uncertain future after UConn cuts women's rowing program
- How much money will UConn save by cutting four sports? It's complicated. - the article states that the biggest savings come from rowing
The program cut, which was announced on June 29, was effective immediately. Rowing has been removed from the university athletics Web site, as has the news item announcing the cut.
Stanford Heavyweight Men and Lightweight Women
Stanford announced the elimination of men's rowing and women's lightweight rowing on July 8, to be effective at the end of the 2021 spring season via An open letter to the Stanford community and the Stanford Athletics family.
A very coordinated effort to save the programs has gained considerable steam, with more than 1500 students, parents, alumni, and friends joining the effort, according to Stanford alum Christine Cavallo, with stated goals of emphasizing the value that rowing offers to both student-athletes and to the university; you can find information on the effort, testimonials from athletes, and suggestions on how to help at Save Stanford Rowing.
"We are working to productively engage with university leadership on a reasonable endowment target, perpetual varsity status for both programs, and a process for discontinuing any logistical actions set in motion by the university's July 8 letter," Cavallo said. "Save Stanford Rowing is confident it can assemble the funding required to adequately support both programs in a short period of time through both annual and endowment giving."
Stanford Heavy Men
The group also emphasizes the walk-on opportunities rowing provides, an element that is certainly almost unique in college athletics save for in the sport of rowing. Cavallo noted that of the four 2012 Stanford Rowing Olympians on the men's team, three learned to row in college.
The university has proposed the possible continuation of the programs as club sports, which would prohibit participation in the IRA national championship.
To endow the approximately $650,000 of un-endowed operating expenses for the programs, about $12 million would need to be fundraised.
July 16 press release: Save Stanford Rowing press release
To follow on social media:
Dartmouth Lightweight Men
Dartmouth Light Men
Dartmouth announced the immediate elimination of the men's lightweight rowing program on July 9, along with cuts to men's and women's swimming and diving and men's and women's golf; read the release at
and an FAQ at Athletics Announcement FAQ
A Change.org petition to reinstate the team outlines the proffered rationale behind the cuts as well as the arguments against the cuts very well, publishes athlete and alum comments, and also offers a way to participate; you can see it at Reinstate Dartmouth Men's Lightweight Rowing.
The 2020-2021 roster would have had approximately 24 returnees, 11 of whom were recruited and 13 who had walked on to the team. The team's mean GPA was 3.67, with a range of 3.01-3.98.
The plans of some athletes in the event that the decision stands have been shared around a bit: some will try out for the heavy men's team, some are investigating transfer opportunities and have formally entered the transfer portal, and some will simply continue at Dartmouth without participating in a sport. Dartmouth is reportedly allowing students from the affected teams to take the year off while they decide what to do, which on the positive side may help them avoid the issues surrounding studies during the pandemic.