What to Know
- Philadelphia's La Salle University is cutting seven varsity sports programs as it attempts to tighten up its athletics department resources.
- About 130 players on the baseball; men's swimming and diving; men's tennis; men's water polo; softball; volleyball; and women's tennis teams are going to be without a team starting next season.
- "This action, while difficult, is necessary to ensure a stronger, more-sustainable athletics program and allows us to reinvest in our existing athletics teams," La Salle said in its letter. "It is a critically important step toward building and strengthening a winning culture and a transformational experience for our student-athletes."
Baseball, softball and volleyball are among the sports on the chopping block as La Salle University’s athletics department looks to refocus resources for its varsity sports.
On Tuesday, La Salle issued a letter “to the university community” announcing that baseball, men's swimming and diving, men's tennis, men's water polo, softball, volleyball and women's tennis will be cut following the upcoming seasons. The Philadelphia college’s small size and economic issues accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic were blamed.
“Simply put, La Salle Athletics cannot continue to sponsor 25 varsity sports at a competitive level,” the university said in its letter. “Sustaining an athletics department that offers more Atlantic 10-sponsored teams than any other in the conference at a university positioned in the conference's bottom-quartile in enrollment is not feasible.”
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La Salle’s well-known men’s Big 5 basketball program will continue, as will 17 other varsity sports. The university noted that most NCAA member institutions support 18 teams and that within the Atlantic 10 Conference – which has suspended all fall sports due to COVID-19 – the average numbers of teams is 19.
“The rising costs associated with providing a high-quality Division I student-athlete experience and the financial challenges incurred by the department contributed to this decision,” the university said. “The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the need for this change.”
The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation made the tough decision to eliminate the sports after an internal analysis of the university’s athletics. The University's Board of Trustees announced that it had approved the plan on Tuesday.
The university said, “it's important to note that this is not a cost-cutting decision.” They called the elimination of baseball, softball and the other sports a “strategic effort to reallocate our investment” in student athletes as current staff and resources are stretched thin across 25 sports.
“We know how disappointing this announcement is for members of our community,” the university said. “We acknowledge that there is never an ideal time to make such an announcement. Out of respect for our student-athletes, coaches and staff members, it was important to make this announcement as early in the academic year as possible, as to allow these members of our community ample time to consider their next steps.”
About 130 student athletes currently play for the teams set to be eliminated.
Current athletes playing for the teams on the chopping block will have their existing scholarship aid honored through graduation, the university said. La Salle also said it will help students transfer any credits and eligibility to a new college if the student-athlete opts to go elsewhere.