This could certainly be the truth, Stanford could very well be using COVID as a cover for doing what they’ve wanted to do anyways. But it could also be a very troubling canary in the coal mine for college athletics generally in a new reality that COVID is not the cause of but only an accelerant. And the two options don’t have to be mutually exclusive; that is, Stanford may be cynically exploiting COVID to do what was always inevitable.
A few facts to keep in mind. Even with cutting 1/3 of its varsity sports, Stanford will still offer MORE varsity sports than Iowa (albeit by 1). This despite being a far, far smaller, private school more akin to jNW than Iowa or other B1G schools. And while I have not looked over Stanford Athletics’ budget, I am confident that their “revenue generating” sports bring in far less than Iowa, they don’t have the luxury of a near-generating third sport like Iowa wrestling, and their outlays to their other programs (with many more championship level achievements than Iowa) far surpass the UofI. Yes, Stanford could easily use some of its endowment to cover any shortfalls this year, and next, and the year after that, and on and on. But maybe they looked at the overall landscape of rising costs, fiscal incompetence of the PAC 12, inevitability of the broadcast rights fees bubble bursting, and changed reality of a post-COVID world where a number of assumptions no longer hold true and decided to get ahead of the curve because they don’t see athletics as a core academic pursuit.
Whats scary to contemplate is that this assumption may be correct, even if employed cynically