Fresno State Athletics is cutting three programs by end of the academic year

"Pride of the Valley" sign sits in front of the Save Mart Center on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Pride of the Valley is a marketing campaign by Fresno State Athletics. (Larry Valenzuela /The Collegian)

Fresno State will be cutting its women’s lacrosse, men’s tennis and wrestling program by the end of the academic year.

In a press release, Fresno State Athletics said that in response to the ongoing financial challenges that the organization has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, these three programs will be discontinued.

The move is to “ensure long-term financial sustainability of its athletic programs.” 

Fresno State Athletics expects an overall annual budget savings of approximately $2.5 million once all scholarships and other contractual obligations have been fulfilled.

With the cuts on Friday, Fresno State will have a total of 18 NCAA Division I programs with six of them being men’s programs and 12 being women’s programs. The school will be continuing to serve approximately 430 student-athletes while also ensuring the university’s ongoing commitment to gender equity.

“Today’s decision is difficult for everyone and yet it is a necessary step to ensure the financial viability of our Athletics Department,” University President Dr. Joseph I. Castro said in the release. “We appreciate those who have supported these Bulldogs programs over the years, including coaches, current and former student-athletes, and their families.”

According to the release, the expected operating deficit for Fresno State Athletics this fiscal year is approximately $6.6 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fans will not be able to attend Fresno State Athletics’ events due to the current mandate set by California Gov. Gavin Newsom. With California’s color-coded tier system, no fans will be able to attend live sporting events at any of the tiers.

As a substitute, Fresno State Athletics is offering fans to purchase cardboard cutouts that will be placed in the stands at Fresno State football games.

“This is an incredibly difficult day for our entire Bulldog Family and one of the most challenging days of my career. Our mission is to holistically serve all of our student-athletes and prepare them for transformative success in competition and, more importantly, in the classroom and in life. So it is with great sadness and heavy hearts that this difficult decision was made,” Director of Athletics Terry Tumey said in the release.

“With these reductions, the future of our overall athletics endeavor becomes more fiscally solvent and in better alignment with our conference and competitive peers. In order for us to fulfill our mission of preparing the future leaders of our Valley community, responsible action had to be taken at this time despite how emotionally difficult it is for our students,” Tumey added. 

For the affected student-athletes, those who wish to remain at Fresno State will have their scholarships honored, and the university will provide support services to both the students who remain and those that wish to transfer to another institution. 

Per NCAA rules, student-athletes who choose to transfer will be immediately eligible at their next institution.

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