As the coronavirus pandemic has swept the nation, athletes around the country have had their seasons end prematurely. In an even more devastating blow, many Brown student athletes just had their entire career (at least as a Bear) taken away from them.
Brown University announced in a press release that they are cutting 11 varsity sports as part of their Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative. The teams that were cut — men's and women’s fencing, men's and women’s golf, women’s skiing, men's and women’s squash, women’s equestrian, and men’s track, field, and cross country — will transition to club status.
Meanwhile, club co-ed sailing and club women’s sailing will move up to varsity status.
Prior to the cuts, Brown had 38 varsity teams, which was third in the nation behind only powerhouses Stanford and Harvard. However, they turned in consistently poor athletic performances, winning only 2.8% of Ivy League titles from 2008 to 2018.
The University’s continuing frustrations on the field prompted an external Committee on Excellence in Athletics which recommended the cuts. Brown claims that the committee made their decision through a “data-driven” review to increase competitiveness in athletics and build a stronger collegiate community, among other goals.
The University hopes that the net reduction of nine teams will allow more attention to be put towards the remaining teams, allowing them to be more competitive.
“I know it will be difficult for many in our community to see some of their favorite teams transition to club status,” Brown President Christina H. Paxson said. “But I also expect there will be true excitement for the heightened opportunities for competitive play that all the elements of this initiative will bring to our student-athletes.”
The decision, which takes effect immediately, has prompted outrage among student athletes. Athletes feel “betrayed” by the cuts, and members of the track and field team have started an online petition with over 25,000 signatures to reinstate the team.
The cuts will affect approximately 150 current and incoming athletes, although financial aid statuses will not be affected as the Ivy League does not give out athletic scholarships.
The Bears will maintain their current athletic budget, re-allocating the money from canceled programs to other athletic teams.
Brown athletes will have a tough decision to make, as they decide whether to transfer to a new school, play for the club team, or give up their sport altogether.