Hoping to replace organized sports for the few with fitness for all, Spelman College this week formally announced its withdrawal from intercollegiate athletics.
For Spelman, a historically black women's college in Atlanta, the decision was motivated by predictable concerns about money and logistics, but also by a concern for the health of the population it serves. In the United States, black people are more likely than whites to suffer from ailments stemming from poor diet and inactivity, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
"When we studied this early this year, I was startled to see that we really had only 80 student athletes out of 2,100 students, and our program was costing almost $1 million," said Beverly Daniel Tatum, the college president. "I was also surprised to learn of studies showing that African-American women are the least physically active demographic in the U.S."
Last year, some schools announced plans to leave the Great South Athletic Conference, the Division III sports league that includes Spelman, prompting some colleges to consider joining other conferences. But that would have raised expenses at a time of increased financial pressure.
In addition, Spelman had planned a major overhaul in 2013-14 of its undersized, outdated athletics building, which would have made organized sports more difficult to carry on.
Instead, the administration decided in April to end intercollegiate sports and direct some of the savings into a fitness and nutrition program for all students. It made the move official on Thursday, notifying the National Collegiate Athletic Association that Spelman would withdraw from competition in May.
Erik Christianson, an N.C.A.A. spokesman, said the group knew of just one other college in the past decade that had dropped intercollegiate sports entirely, the New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn, a branch of the City University of New York.
Dr. Tatum said physical education classes would move from specific sports toward general fitness.
The college's voluntary wellness program is becoming more popular, but has been constrained by having to share space with sports. The school also plans to expand and promote related classes, an effort that began with a series of events this week.
"We want our students to become what I call soldiers in the wellness revolution," Dr. Tatum said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.