It was panic SZN in college sports last year with a global pandemic wreaking havoc on schedules (and thus revenue), schools from coast to coast decided that maybe carrying a bloated roster of sports teams on campus just wasn’t very smart. Boise State was one of the first schools to succumb to the hysteria and dropped their erstwhile baseball program after just resurrecting it from a 40 year slumber. As you’ll recall, perhaps to be Title IX compliant they also axed women’s swimming and diving—a program that had brought several championships to the school and frankly, was thought to be one of the better mid-major programs in the country. As Roberto Duran once quipped, “no mas”—despite some VALIANT fundraising efforts to save the sports, delaying the execution was a non-starter for then-AD Curt Apsey and university prez Marlene Tromp. In a very short time, Boise State donors had pledged millions (including multi-year donations) to keep the sports afloat. But why delay such a decision when you could just panic?
Of course, at the time the decisions were made, we didn’t know just how short-sighted they were...after all, teams were dropping sports nationwide like they were scalding rocks, so Boise State fans got the distinct pleasure of watching their baseball team disbanded and their players land at P5 programs across the country. In fact, there was such a run on Boise State baseball transfers, that one might be tempted to suggest that that team might have been pretty good had they had a chance to play more than 14 games. Hey, at least we hadn’t build the stadium yet (with these lumber prices?!). Of course, that speaks nothing to swimming and diving—who actually led the fundraising charge, had a history of success (kind of like that wrestling program), and made that Title IX pie easier to slice. Bah, humbug, am I right?
Amidst the nationwide athletic hemorrhage was one of the most venerated on the west coast...stately Stanford U, which announced it would cut ELEVEN sports including wrestling, which fielded a national champion just this year. As Lee Corso once said, “not so fast my friend”. As it turns out, Stanford sports were only mostly dead, and on Monday they announced they wouldn’t be cutting those sports after all. Execution stayed. Stanford cited “an improved financial picture with increased fundraising potential” as the reason for the reversal.
So, Boise State cut two sports...with fundraiser backing (that had just gotten started) to save about $3 mill. How much scratch was Stanford cutting with eleven? Yes, I’m aware that Stanford has a bigger, wealthier alumni base than Boise State, but with new sheriff in town (Sheriff Dickey), and a newfound...uh...desire to fundraise, could Boise State bring some of their ghost programs back to life? It’s too late to salvage what we HAD, but could watching Stanford successfully pull it off (much of which they accomplished merely by WAITING), help a renewed push for Boise State sport? Time will tell. If I’m a part of the very vocal Save Boise State Wrestling community, I might be tempted to give it another go. Jeramiah Dickey and Andy Avalos have breathed a bit more enthusiasm into the fanbase, and with that comes fundraising opportunities. Hey, you didn’t need that second stimmy, right?