Stanford cuts 11 sports, including Greenfield native Tara Danielson’s field hockey program

  • Stanford field hockey coach Tara Danielson walks the sideline during her team’s game against Northwestern last season. The Greenfield native led the Cardinal to the NCAA Tournament in her 10th season on the job in Palo Alto, but the school announced on Wednesday that field hockey was one of 11 varsity sports that will be cut following the 2020-21 school year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/STANFORD ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/8/2020 4:01:05 PM

A major announcement all the way across the country on Wednesday had significant local impact.

Stanford University announced it will be cutting 11 varsity sports programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year. Those cuts include the sport of field hockey, where Greenfield native Tara (Jelley) Danielson has been the head coach for 10 years. Danielson is a 1990 graduate of Greenfield High School.

In addition to field hockey, the school will also eliminate men’s and women’s fencing, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling.

In a press release sent out Wednesday, the school said the fiscal constraints from operating 36 varsity teams became too much to continue without these eliminations. According to the Associated Press, Stanford projected a deficit of more than $25 million in the 2021 fiscal year and a shortfall of nearly $70 million over the next three years due to the coronavirus pandemic. The school estimated the cost of sustaining the 11 sports permanently would exceed $200 million.

“The decision to discontinue these 11 varsity sports programs comes down primarily to finances and competitive excellence,” the release said. “With so many sports and limited financial resources, we would no longer be able to support a world-class athletics experience for our student-athletes without making these changes.”

Stanford has one of just three Division I field hockey programs on the West Coast, and the departure leaves just California-Berkeley and UC-Davis. The Cardinal play in the America East Conference, which includes schools on both coasts. In 2019, the program won 16 games and earned a trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament — arguably the most successful season in Danielson’s decade-long tenure.

“All of these teams will have the opportunity to compete in their upcoming 2020-21 seasons, should the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 allow it, before they are discontinued at the varsity level,” the school said.

Stanford said approximately 240 student-athletes and 22 coaches participate in the 11 sports impacted. Additionally, 20 staff positions will be eliminated as part of the decision.

“The contracts of all coaches will be honored, and any associated staff whose employment with Stanford is ended as part of this realignment will receive severance pay,” the release stated. “As a matter of practice, Stanford will not reveal details of those arrangements. Stanford will do all that it can to help these outstanding coaches and staff members continue their careers at other institutions or in other endeavors of their choosing.”

Fundraising campaigns at other collegiate institutions to save eliminated sports have proven successful, including the Division I men’s ice hockey team at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, though Stanford said that wouldn’t be an option with the 11 sports impacted. Numerous schools have cut athletic programs in recent weeks as the pandemic shut down campuses. Stanford is believed to be the first Power Five school to eliminate any sports programs.

“The decisions to reduce our sports offerings are final, and any future philanthropic interest in these sports may be directed towards supporting them at the club level, should they establish as a club sport after their 2020-21 varsity campaign,” the release offered.

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