STOCKTON (CBS13) — It’s a scary time for Division I field hockey on the west coast. Last month the University of the Pacific dropped the women’s sport which may impact three other universities in Northern California.
The UOP team, which has celebrated multiple years as division champions, will soon have to abandon the sport unless enough funds are raised to save the program.
“I feel really really bad for the players. They all signed up to come here, they all came here to play hockey and get a degree and a lot of them will leave because there’s no longer a field hockey team here,” said coach Andy Smith.
The Division I program was so successful, the team won four conference championships in the last five years and attracted players from around the world.
“It’s affected players from South Africa, it’s affected players from Belgium, from Holland,” Smith said.
Athletic director Janet Lucas said the impacts were impossible to avoid.
“I can’t express enough how difficult the decision was to eliminate a program, but… It would take an endowment of about $13 million total in order to reinstate the program,” Lucas said.
Eight of the 18 athletes on the field hockey team are scheduled to graduate in 2019, but the remainder of the squad is left without a program.
“It’s a big surprise and it’s really upsetting. No one wants to hear that,” said player Lindsie Rogers.
Now the players are faced with a difficult decision whether to stay at UOP or transfer and play elsewhere. Lucas said the school will continue to honor the athlete’s scholarships if they chose to stay to support their graduation.
A group of alumni are spearheading an effort to save the team and have established a fund at the Community Foundation San Joaquin.
The foundation has until the end of the month to raise enough money. In the meantime, three other teams at UC Davis, Stanford, and Berkeley, could also be impacted. The American East Conference announced it is ending its league affiliation with the teams at the end of the 2020 season.