San Diego State University announced Friday the women's rowing team is being cut at the end of the 2020-21 season, but scholarships will still be honored by the institution for athletes who choose to stay.
"We have assured our student-athletes that we will continue to provide them access to academic, athletic training and counseling support as they pursue their SDSU undergraduate degrees," SDSU President Adela de la Torre and SDSU Director of Athletics John David Wicker wrote in a joint letter.
"We also understand that some student-athletes may want to explore their opportunities to transfer to another institution in order to continue their athletics pursuits. SDSU will assist these student-athletes in that process and, consistent with NCAA rules, work with them to secure their immediate eligibility to compete," they said.
The letter says SDSU and Associated Students "will sponsor a women's club program if the students choose to create it in a manner consistent with the 21 robust club sports programs already in existence at SDSU."
The decision impacts around 50 rowers on the roster this year. SDSU's women's rowing team has nearly 500 alumni since 1998.
According to Wicker and de la Torre, a number of factors -- including financial sustainability and gender equity -- prompted the decision.
"The need to realign the student-athlete population to more closely resemble the overall institution gender composition was a leading factor," their letter says. "The current financial impacts created by the COVID-19 pandemic prompted an evaluation of our sports portfolio with an eye towards the long-term success for our various sports and how to financially sustain that success."
Starting in 2021-22, SDSU will support a dozen sports for women and six sports for men with participation rates that "closely align with the gender composition of the university's full-time undergraduate enrollment."
SDSU will continue to serve more than 500 athletes who compete in 18 NCAA
Division I sports.
SDSU men's undergraduate enrollment has increased in the past decade.
At the same time, women's athletics participation/rosters have increased, the SDSU leaders said. To be in compliance with Title IX proportionality, men's and women's roster sizes needed to be brought more in line with the demographics of
SDSU's undergraduate enrollment.
"Adding a men's sport of the size needed is not a financial option. Investing in women's sports will remain a priority," the letter says.
The university made the decision in the fall, despite rowing being a spring sport, to allow rowers to make decisions about their future at SDSU.