Cabrini University to be sold

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One of Cabrini’s moments of Division III athletics excellence came in 2019, when the Cavaliers won the D-III national title in men’s lacrosse.
2023 Cabrini athletics photo

By Pat Coleman, Dave McHugh,

Cabrini University is being sold to Villanova University and will cease operating as a separate entity after the 2023-24 academic year and sports season, and Hoopsville have learned. broke this story the morning of June 23. Other news organizations followed and the universities issued a joint statement confirming.

This continues the trend of larger, Division I institutions, taking over Division III institutions in the same area and closing the smaller school. Cabrini and Villanova, two Catholic schools in the Philadelphia suburbs, sit less than 2 miles apart.

The information was confirmed by multiple sources. The sources could not speak to on the record because they are not currently authorized to speak publicly about the subject.

In response to our story, the institutions released theirs joint statement on the afternoon of June 23, confirming the sale.

The sale comes as Cabrini has lost almost half of its student population, especially in the graduate student population. The school had 1,235 full-time undergraduate students, 61 percent of them women, as of its most recently published filing with the US Department, through the 2021-22 academic year.

About one-fourth of Cabrini undergraduates participate in intercollegiate athletics, according to that survey. Cabrini does not sponsor football.

“Cabrini University, like so many colleges and universities, has faced significant financial challenges stemming from declining enrollment, the pandemic, and economic uncertainty,” the schools’ statement read.

Villanova is expected to use the acquisition to house its law school, meaning the campus which hosted the 2019 Division III men’s lacrosse national champion Cavaliers, the 2012 men’s basketball national runners-up, and saw legendary men’s basketball coach John Dzik coach more than half of the school’s seasons en route to 483 career wins, will host undergraduates no longer.

Area map showing distance between Cabrini and Villanova.
The schools are not quite walking distance apart in an area that includes two more D-III institutions.

Less than a year ago, a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer stated that Cabrini had run an operating loss since the 2012-13 academic year, had eliminated the position of provost in an attempt to save money, was facing a budget deficit of more than $5 million, and that the school was seeking a merger.

Cabrini has been dominant in the Atlantic East Conference, after being in a similar position in the Colonial States Athletic Conference, as well as its precursor, the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference. The AEC announced on Thursday, June 21, that it was adding Pratt as a full memberwhich will keep the conference at seven, assuming no further change by the time Pratt joins in the fall of 2024.

Cabrini also recently announced it was to join other Atlantic East institutions in offering women’s flag football in the spring of 2025, and was slated to sponsor men’s volleyball for the first time in the spring of 2024.

Many Division III schools are in similar situations, and people should expect more mergers, closures and buyouts in the coming years. The number of students graduating high school will begin to decline starting in 2025, the results of the US birthrate falling during the economic crisis of 2008 and remaining lower following it. This compounds the already-declining undergraduate enrollment nationwide, which has fallen around 15% from its peak in 2010, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In 2021, Delaware State took over Wesley College in Dover, Delawareand the previous year, Boston College took over Pine Manor College.

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