La Salle To Eliminate Baseball Program After 2021 Season
La Salle on Tuesday announced it is eliminating seven sports, including baseball, at the end of the school year.
La Salle is the fourth school to eliminate baseball since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing financial crunch across college athletics, joining Boise State, Chicago State and Furman. Bowling Green State also cut baseball briefly before reversing the decision after a strong fundraising push.
In an open letter to the university community, La Salle president Colleen Hanycz and athletic director Brian Baptiste noted that the school currently sponsors the second-most sports of any school in the Atlantic 10 Conference, despite having one of the smallest enrollments. After a review of the athletic department, they concluded that disparity could not continue.
“Simply put, La Salle athletics cannot continue to sponsor 25 varsity sports at a competitive level,” they wrote. “The rising costs associated with providing a high-quality Division I student-athlete experience and the financial challenges incurred by the department contributed to this decision. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the need for this change.”
In addition to the financial crunch, Hanycz and Baptiste said La Salle’s staff and facility have been pushed to their limit by sponsoring 25 sports. They estimated bringing everything up to par to continue without cuts would cost $100 million in endowment, scholarships and capital investment.
College baseball in Philadelphia has not fared well in recent years. La Salle is the second of the city’s “Big 5” universities to drop baseball. Temple was the first, doing so in 2013. Drexel, while not in the Big 5, also cut baseball in 2003.
La Salle has played baseball since 1947 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice—in 1964 and 1985. It produced two major leaguers—Tom Filer and Frank DiMichele. It went 5-9 in the abbreviated 2020 season, which ironically began with a series at Furman.
Now, the Explorers will embark on one final season. It’s sure not to be an easy one, but by making the move to eliminate the program now, the university has given its players a good chance to find a new team for 2022.