- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Division I athletics will soon be no more at St. Francis College. The Brooklyn, New York, Catholic university announced Monday that the clocks would hit triple zeroes for its 21 sports teams after the spring 2023 semester.

Scholarships, both athletic and academic, will be extended for current student-athletes at the school, while coaches will be let go.

The teams at St. Francis run the gamut in terms of age. The school’s men’s basketball program is the oldest in New York City, having begun in 1896. Conversely, the school added men’s volleyball and women’s soccer in only 2019.

Financial difficulties, involving increased operating expenses, flattened revenue and the negative impact of COVID-19 on enrollment, were major factors in the decision. Enrollment at the school is about 2,300 undergraduate students.

“There are challenges facing higher education institutions, particularly smaller liberal arts colleges in the Northeast, from which SFC is not immune,” the school said in a new release. “Among these challenges are increased operating expenses, flattening revenue streams, and plateauing enrollment due in part to a shrinking pool of high school graduates in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

The school’s athletic director, Irma Garcia, blamed COVID-19 for the shuttering.

“I am heartbroken that a decision has been made to eliminate the college’s athletics program, effective at the conclusion of the spring 2023 semester. … The COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible impact on St. Francis College, and as a result, Terrier athletics,” Garcia said in a statement.

In a FAQ, the school qualified that if its financial situation improves, athletics could be reinstated in the future.

This article was based in part on wire service reports.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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