Stanford University to Continue Women’s Squash as Varsity Sport

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2020 Stanford Women’s Squash team (photo courtesy: Stanford Athletics)

Stanford University announced on Tuesday that it would continue the 11 varsity sports, including women’s squash, that it had planned to cut at the end of the current academic year.

“The Stanford women’s varsity squash program has been a beacon for top squash players of all backgrounds for more than a decade, and college squash is fortunate that it will remain so,” said John Nimick, College Squash Association (CSA) Board Chair. “We are also excited for the Stanford players to now continue their careers at the varsity collegiate level – they deserve credit for banding together during this challenging year.”

A multi-faceted advocacy approach, including a public relations campaign, inspired grassroots fundraising, private negotiations, and newly filed lawsuits focused on breach of contract and Title IX concerns led to the Stanford administration reversing their decision from last summer.

“I am really happy for our players and their families, the Stanford Squash program, and squash in general,” said Stanford Head Squash Coach Mark Talbott. “We take great pride in being a flagship program for the CSA on the west coast. I am grateful to US Squash and Soo Venkatesan for the important role the organization played in supporting our goal of continuing at the varsity level.”

36 Sports Strong, an advocacy group supporting full reinstatement of the 11 teams comprised of Stanford athletics alumni, played an immense role in raising awareness for the cause and convincing the Stanford administration to reconsider the program cuts. 11United, the group that recently filed the lawsuits against Stanford, put extra pressure on Stanford with a thoughtful, coordinated effort.

“It was inspiring to witness unity across the teams. Many unsung heroes worked courageously to shape this outcome, including our resilient Stanford varsity female athletes,” remarked Soo Venkatesan, US Squash Board Chair. “US Squash is honored to support the reinstatement effort and to partner with CSA to strengthen collegiate playing opportunities across the country as a shared priority.”

Stanford’s reinstatement brings the total of CSA varsity women’s teams projected for the 2021-2022 season to 32, pairing up with 34 varsity men’s teams. Georgetown University will continue the transition of its women’s team from club to varsity status, while the Denison University men’s and women’s teams and the Chatham women’s team will play their first full seasons as varsity programs next year.