The Stony Brook men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams are on “permanent competitive hiatus,” or as team captain Allison Zelnick put it “forced retirement,” after planned renovations to their pool were suddenly defunded.

As Zelnick described the process, the pool was drained with plans to be renovated, but upon inspection was deemed to be unsafe. Then, just when the facility needed them the most, half of the school’s critical maintenance funds were cut. That meant that the $10 million pool renovation was pushed down a waiting list (far down in fact).

This meant that there was no 2012-2013 season for the men’s and women’s programs, and none in the foreseeable future for the Seawolves.

Stony Brook is a part of the State University of New York system, and in fact according to a letter sent out by University president Samuel Stanley on February 4th are the only school in the system to presently have any sort of emergency maintenance funding, however. Stanley also said that they are working with SUNY to advocate for further capital funding.

Under current circumstances, the process of re-applying for capital funds will take 3 years or more, as described by Stony Brook Athletics Director Jim Fiore to the team; in the meantime, while the program isn’t officially cut, they have ceased competition until the pool is renovated, and have stopped all recruiting activities as well.

The timing for the program couldn’t be worse; the program was put into its current state 7 weeks before the passing of head coach Dave Alexander, who had been with the program for 32 years right up until the end. The school had also recently made the jump from Division III to Division I, and the team was beginning to gain some momentum. In their last America East Conference Championship meet, the men finished 4th and the women were 5th, and both teams were garnering some momentum forward.

The team was planned to miss the 2012-2013 season even before the funding was cut, and swimmers have been informed that now that status will be continued until the money can be found to complete the renovations to the pool.

The pool is used by many other groups, including other of the school’s athletics teams, masters programs, and the general student body. The University has a total enrollment of just short of 26,000 students.

The current pool is a small 6-lane, 25-yard on-campus facility. The women’s team has full scholarship funding, while the men’s team doesn’t offer any scholarships. The school did commit to honor all scholarships awarded to members of the swim team.

Swimmers on the team are asking that those in support of their cause sign the petition here asking that a solution be found to correct the issues with the pool: http://signon.org/sign/stony-brook-university.fb25?source=c.fb&r_by=6997474.

You can also join the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/593894840628782/

The full notice sent out by the Office of the Vice President of External Relations is below:

To All Students, Faculty and Staff,

This notice is to inform the campus community that due to budget
constraints, the University Pool in the Athletic Complex at Stony
Brook University that was slated to undergo a critical maintenance
renovation planned to be completed in the 2012-13 academic year, will
be closed until capital funding is made available to initiate the
estimated $10 million project.

One consequence of the delayed renovation is that the Stony Brook
University Department of Athletics must extend the competitive hiatus
of the Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving programs. The swimming
and diving programs were already in a one-year competitive hiatus,
which coincided with the planned renovation project as announced in
May 2012. Stony Brook University swimming and diving student-athletes
have been informed of the extended renovation delay in order to allow
them to make the best decisions in support of their individual
athletic and academic futures. For swimming or diving
student-athletes who choose to stay at Stony Brook, we will honor all
current athletic scholarships and will continue to receive academic
support and student-athlete welfare services. For any swimming or
diving student-athletes who wish to pursue the opportunity to
transfer to another institution, we will support their unconditional
release.

Another consequence of the extended pool closure is that one of our
academic programs that utilizes the pool will have to seek an
alternative site for instructional purposes. We are working with the
program director, local officials and others in the community to
secure an alternate facility that meets the requirements of this
academic program and is within close proximity to the University.

Although the timeline for securing the estimated $10 million to
renovate the pool is uncertain, design for the renovation will be
completed this semester, and we are working with SUNY System
Administration and other state officials to identify support as
SUNY’s Capital plan is finalized. As information becomes available we
will share it with the campus community.

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