Emily Molins was well on her way to competing in the Olympics. Molins, 20, a lightweight rower, joined the under-23 U.S. national team last year, and she competed for Stanford University’s national championship team.
Then in early July, Molins was invited to join a brief Zoom video call. Stanford’s athletic director informed her and her teammates that their program would be eliminated because of a history of cost overruns in the sports department that Covid-19 had made even worse.
The news devastated Molins. Her Olympic aspirations had been thrown into uncertainty.
“This decision makes it much, much harder, especially as a college athlete, to have the resources to pursue elite athletics,” said Molins, who has since decided to take a gap year.
Stanford isn’t the only college making adjustments to its sports programs. Numerous college sports conferences and universities have postponed fall sports for reasons centering on safety concerns for student athletes around Covid-19 — and now some college sports programs are being cut altogether. The cuts, many of which are taking place in programs that feed athletes to U.S. Olympic teams, may have a downstream effect on the country’s participation in those sports.
The college sports hit the hardest include rowing, swimming, diving, tennis, track and field and volleyball. Over the past two Summer Olympics in 2012 and 2016, across these six sports, Team USA medaled 147 times out of the 216 total events, according to an