Pitt plans to discontinue women's tennis after spring season
Pitt will shut down its intercollegiate women’s tennis program at the end of the upcoming spring season, marking the first time in nearly a quarter century the university has discontinued a sport. Men’s gymnastics and tennis were eliminated at the end of the 1994-95 academic year.
The elimination of women’s tennis will give Pitt 18 intercollegiate sports for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years. Pitt will begin to sponsor women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport beginning in 2021-22. “This was an extremely difficult decision that was reached only after considerable research and evaluation,” athletic director Heather Lyke said in a statement. “We have a responsibility to provide our student-athletes with the finest opportunities to compete and achieve at the highest levels. “That, unfortunately, has not been the case with our women’s tennis program. Our analysis concluded this is a hard but necessary decision to ensure the best student-athlete opportunities for growth and success in the future. “I have personally pledged to each member of our tennis program that they will have our university’s full support and assistance as they consider their future academic, athletic and personal pursuits.”
“These decisions are never taken lightly. They are also very difficult,” Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said. “We are attempting to balance what is best for the women in our tennis program with what is best for our university as a whole. “And we’ve come to realize that continuing this program undermines our commitment to future student-athletes who should be receiving the highest quality opportunities to compete and win.”
There are currently seven student-athletes, including four seniors, on the roster, with no incoming players signed to letters of intent for the 2019-20 year. Lyke said each of the underclassmen will have the opportunity to remain on scholarship at Pitt provided they maintain academic eligibility.
Coach Alex Santos is expected to remain with the program through the balance of the upcoming season.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.