Effort to save Stanford sports gains traction: ‘Productive’ meeting with president

The door is cracked open to Stanford sports reinstatement.

That’s the takeaway from Tuesday’s meeting between 36SportsStrong and university brass. The alumni group committed to saving the 11 Stanford sport programs slated for termination met by video conference with Stanford decision makers, including President Marc Tessier-Lavigne.

“It was a productive meeting,” said Jeremy Jacobs, a former volleyball player and the spokesman for 36SportsStrong. “It is clear that President Tessier-Lavigne is considering our petition to reinstate the sports and our proposal to self-fund the teams. He told us he would consider it over the next few weeks. We will stay engaged with him.”

Tessier-Lavigne has asked for the advice of the university’s full board of trustees on the proposal. The board of trustee’s athletic subcommittee was involved in Tuesday’s meeting.

In July, Stanford dropped a bombshell on its athletic community and supportive alumni. With no warning, athletic director Bernard Muir, as well as Tessier-Lavigne and provost Persis Drell, announced that after this school year, 11 varsity programs would be cut: 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.

The cuts were presented as a cost-cutting move in dire financial times. The programs include 240 current students, 22 coaches, more than 4,000 alumni and hundreds of recruits. Although the university claimed to have exhausted all its options before making the decision, alumni were stunned that they had not been asked to help.

For most of the past nine months, the university has stood steadfast behind the decision and just last week, Tessier-Lavigne told The Chronicle, “It breaks our heart to have to deal with the difficult financial realities of the sports model.”

But he subsequently initiated a meeting with 36SportsStrong.