Cabrini University, Winner Of 2019 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship, Will Close In 2024


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Villanova University has announced a tentative agreement to buy nearby Cabrini University at the end of the 2024 academic year, dissolving the Division III athletics program and creating upheaval for their Atlantic East Conference colleagues.

AEC Commissioner Jessica Huntley told in an email, “As Cabrini was a founding member of the Atlantic East Conference, we are saddened by the news. Our primary focus is on the students and making their transition as smooth as possible.”

“The Atlantic East Conference has been extremely intentional about membership from our inception,” Huntley said. “We recently welcomed Pratt Institute, who will join us in 2024-2025, and we continue to have healthy conversations with other potential members. 60-70% of Division III conferences are dealing with membership and sport sponsorship challenges across the country.” Pratt’s addition will compensate for Cabrini’s departure.

The news continues a string of college mergers and partnerships in the mid-Atlantic region. In 2021, Delaware State University (DI) and Wesley College (DIII) announced they were combining campuses in the Dover, Delaware area. That same year, Saint Joseph’s University (DI) announced a merger with the University of the Sciences (DII). The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) combined 6 stand alone campuses into two as an academic consortium designed to streamline academic programs and address workforce issues. Each campus retained their athletic identity and Division II teams.

Cabrini has about 1,250 students, of which 25% are members of an athletic team, according to 2021-22 data. The college has been in serious financial peril for several years. According to Inside Higher Ed, they cut 46 positions in 2021. The next round of cuts affected top administrators and caused the merger of three academic colleges into two, downsizing 18 department chairs to 3. The administrative layoffs included the provost, associate provost and three deans. Their interim president, Helen Drinan, has been in the role for about a year.

Cabrini enjoyed sustained post-season success in multiple sports, with the men’s lacrosse team appearing in the NCAA Tournament every year since 2002. Women’s lacrosse also had a long series of post-season victories, and men’s basketball appeared in the 2012 NCAA Championship game.

For the 200+ athletes remaining, they will have one more season of competition in 2023-24. Three local institutions-Holy Family University, Gwynedd Mercy University and Eastern University, have offered to smooth the transfer process for students, potentially paving the way for the athletes to join teams on those campuses. The university posted a robust FAQ webpage after the announcement.

What the future holds for the athletic administration and coaching staff is far less clear. Villanova has stated they will assist the Cabrini faculty and staff with the transition, but whether there is room for them on the Wildcats’ athletics staff is unclear.

There is no word yet about what will happen to all the Cabrini athletics records, hall of fame, and facilities. When Wesley College was dissolved in 2021, the athletics website was discontinued with promises to include them on the Hornets athletics pages. A recent scan shows no mention of any Wesley College athletics history.

Cabrini’s had lost about 25% of their enrollment over the last six years. Since the pandemic began, many small, private liberal arts schools who are highly dependent on tuition-paying undergraduates have been under stress. Many do not have large endowments, and do carry long-term debt. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Cabrini was carrying $49 million in debt as of 2022. The future of their $38 million endowment was also uncertain.

Attempts to reach both the President’s office and the athletic department for comment were unsuccessful.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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