What’s this all about?
On July 8th, 2020, Stanford University announced their decision to cut nearly a third of their 36 varsity teams for financial costs anticipated over the next three years. Both the Women’s Lightweight Rowing team and the Men’s Rowing team were included in this decision. Alumni, students, and coaches learned of this decision with the official announcement, and were not briefed on the conversations. The stated reason for the university’s decision was explained in primarily financial terms, outlining a long-term underlying structural gap, with a severity accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What does SSR hope to accomplish?
SSR hopes to create a dialogue with the university administration to better understand their decision-making process and share a vision for the future of the men’s rowing and lightweight women’s rowing programs.
To help connect students, parents, alumni, and friends with a way to support this effort
To maintain varsity status for both programs into perpetuity by endowing both programs adequately, so they are financially self-supporting and no longer a burden on the Stanford Athletics budget.
Who does SSR represent?
SSR is composed of a diverse group of 1,500 current athletes, alumni, parents and supporters of the Stanford Men’s Rowing program and the Stanford Lightweight Rowing program. We think that both of these teams play an integral role on Stanford’s campus and in the overall university experience.
Why should I support this effort?
For the endowment of the programs, we are already poised for success. While it will require good faith discussions with the administration on the final amount and terms, we believe we have a path forward to the finances required for an endowment that positions the programs for success. While we do welcome more financial participation, we are not seeking small donations from the general public at this time. We have a path forward within the Save Stanford Rowing community itself for the bulk of the financial requirements, and additional participants within the community simply help us show the University the breadth of support. We know that these are difficult financial times for many people and that there are many other worthy causes in the world, so we’re thankful that the bulk of our need will not require a major grassroots effort. We already have a very strong network of potential contributors.
For continued Stanford values: academic and athletic excellence, diversity, and equal opportunity. The typical Stanford rower is academically rigorous, earning one of the highest student-athlete GPAs at the university. The Stanford Women’s Lightweight team has earned 9 of the last 10 national championships, and the Stanford Men’s team has sent seven athletes to the Olympics over the last 16 years; the most in its history. The women’s program has helped bring diversity to the Stanford Athletics program overall as well as to athletics across the country. Women’s lightweight rowing is relatively new to college athletics, and the loss of the sport’s top team will undoubtedly lead to the cancellation of other programs. As a club sport, Stanford will not be permitted to compete in the national championships any longer. Stanford has also contributed two-thirds of the African American US Olympians in men’s rowing. Finally, in a world that has professionalized youth athletics, rowing is perhaps the only remaining sport where a college freshman novice can become an Olympian, with several Stanford student-athletes following that path.
For good-faith transparency and dialog. The announcement for the reduction in varsity programs came as a surprise to nearly everyone except university administrators and trustees. Now that we’ve been able to assemble a team of supporters, we believe we can now have an open, positive and constructive dialog with the university, particularly to alleviate their financial concerns with supporting these two programs.