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William & Mary to cut seven sports in pandemic budget crunch

September 3, 2020 GMT

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — William and Mary says it will cut seven of its 23 intercollegiate sports at the end of the 2021 academic year because of budget constraints related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic has made these budget constraints acute and has brought us to a point of reckoning,” the university said in a letter distributed Thursday and signed by university president Katherine Rowe, provost Peggy Agouris and athletic director Samantha K. Huge.

The sports being cut are men’s and women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s indoor and outdoor track & field and women’s volleyball.

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Huge said in a telephone interview the decisions were “exacerbated by pandemic,” but that recent strategic plans done by the college also had concluded that offering 23 intercollegiate sports was “not sustainable” without a significant infusion of revenue, especially after financial losses from pandemic cancelations last winter and spring.

“Today is a difficult day for all who love William & Mary,” Huge said, particularly for the athletes. Factors that went into the decisions included the availability of opponents regionally -- there are only 12 Division I men’s gymnastics teams, she said — as well as the pool of athletes competing interest at the youth level, facilities and operating costs.

“When I say it was a deliberative, consultative, collaborative, thoughtful process, it truly was,” she said.

The school says the cuts will impact 118 student-athletes and 13 coaches, and that all athletes that choose to do so will remain on scholarship and graduate as scheduled.

According to the letter, the programs cut had produced 22 Colonial Athletic Association championships, 36 All-Americans, two national champions, one Olympian, three Rhodes Scholars and 29 Phi Beta Kappas, one of the nation’s most prestigious honor societies.