In Education

Top-Tier NCAA College Is Scrapping Its Entire Athletics Department Amid Plummeting Enrollment

Daily Caller News Foundation

An NCAA Division I college in Brooklyn, New York, announced on Monday that it will eliminate its entire athletics department at the end of the spring semester in response to challenges posed in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

St. Francis College (SFC) Board of Trustees will cut all 21 athletic programs as part of its strategic vision for ensuring the growth of the college in light of higher operating expenses, “flattening” revenue and plateauing enrollment, according to the announcement. The college will honor student athletes’ academic and athletic scholarships, but will terminate department staff and coaches at the end of the semester.

“We want to acknowledge that SFC has a rich legacy in competitive athletics, and are proud of our Terriers today and in all years past,” the announcement reads. “This difficult decision was guided by a commitment to preserving the College’s 164-year Franciscan mission to provide a high quality and affordable education to working-class and first-generation students.”

The college will invest in “new academic programs” and revise its curriculum and pedagogy, expand “the population whom the College serves, both locally and internationally” and relocate the primary campus as part of the strategic vision, according to the announcement. The plan intends to “position the College for success, development, and growth.”

SFC offered 19 men and women’s teams, according to its website. It had the oldest men’s college basketball program in New York City, USA Today reported.

The school competed in the Northeast Conference.

The COVID-19 pandemic “left an indelible impact on St. Francis College, and as a result, Terrier athletics,” Irma Garcia, SFC’s athletic director, said in a statement.

“I come to you today to share the news of a decision I never anticipated during my time at St. Francis Brooklyn. I am heartbroken that a decision has been made to eliminate the college’s athletic program, effective at the conclusion of the spring 2023 semester,” she wrote. “My heart hurts for our student-athletes, coaches, and staff.”

The men’s basketball team is one of four original Division I teams to have never qualified for the NCAA tournament, Yahoo Sports reported. The women’s team made the tournament in 2015 but lost in the first round.

The men’s soccer program collected nine NEC titles and made 10 NCAA tournaments, according to Yahoo Sports. The men’s water polo team racked up “seven Eastern College Athletic Conference championships, 10 Collegiate Water Polo Association championships and four Eastern championships” and were four-time NCAA championship qualifiers.

SFC and Garcia did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. The Board of Trustees could not be reached for comment.

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