File photo taken on March 9, 2012 shows trainees warm up in a Kungfu class at Stanford University in California, the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Yilin)

The decision to discontinue the 11 varsity sports programs comes down primarily to finances and competitive excellence.

SAN FRANCISCO, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Stanford University announced on Wednesday that it will discontinue 11 of its varsity sports programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year.

These programs, which include the 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, consist of more than 240 student-athletes and 22 coaches.

According to the announcement, the decision to discontinue the 11 varsity sports programs comes down primarily to finances and competitive excellence. The school's financial model supporting 36 varsity sports is not sustainable.

Stanford's players celebrate after winning the final match against Wake Forest University of NCAA Men's Soccer National Championship in Houston, U.S., Dec. 11, 2016. (Xinhua/Song Qiong)

"We have calculated that the total incremental funding needed to permanently sustain these 11 sports at a nationally competitive varsity level exceeds 200 million U.S. dollars," the university concluded.

"With so many varsity 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," the announcement said.

"The elimination of a subset of varsity sports was considered a last resort, only to be undertaken if all other viable avenues had been exhausted. Those deliberations coincided with the harsh new financial realities imposed by COVID-19 on all university operations," the announcement read.

Stanford's players celebrate after winning the final match against Wake Forest University of NCAA Men's Soccer National Championship in Houston, U.S., Dec. 11, 2016. (Xinhua/Song Qiong)

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. A total of 20 support staff positions are being eliminated as part of this realignment, the announcement said.

The university will honor all existing athletics scholarship commitments to the student-athletes throughout their undergraduate experiences at Stanford. The contracts of affected coaches will also be honored. All of the affected sports will have the opportunity to transition to club status after they conclude their 2020-21 varsity season. 

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