STOCKTON -- When the University of the Pacific women's field hockey team was called to a meeting Monday they thought it was about the season they had just finished.
"All players, everyone involved, we have created a family and for Pacific to turn around and say we are going to cut that, that’s heartbreaking," said Ash Rutherford.
However, they were told their program is done.
"The girls weren’t expecting it and there was a lot of people that were overwhelmed," Rutherford told FOX40.
It was an abrupt end to a team that has been playing for more than four decades at the school.
"There is a lot of tradition associated with it that we are very, very proud of," said University of the Pacific's Athletic Director Janet Lucas.
Lucas said eliminating the team was the end result of her being tasked to cut the department’s budget. The goal was to trim spending by 12 percent or around $1 million.
On Monday, Lucas said multiple times that this was a very hard call to make.
"So we took this decision very methodically and very carefully, and took it very seriously when it was made," she said.
Without field hockey, Lucas says the athletic department will meet around 98 percent of the self-mandated budget cuts.
"To hand in my Tiger jersey isn't something I expected to do," Rutherford said.
Rutherford is one of nine women who expected to return to the team next year -- before Monday's news. Others like her came from foreign countries to play in Stockton, giving up their previous lives to play the sport they love.
Rutherford said they will not go away quietly.
"Our priority right now is not acceptance, it is action," she said. "We are here to take action and to take a stand and to fight for what we believe is right."