Division I North Carolina A&T, the Aggies, announced this week that they will drop women’s swimming no later than the 2015-2016 season in exchange for adding three new sports and reinstating a fourth.
Men’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf and women’s soccer will be added to the Aggies’ sport offerings, and men’s tennis will return after being discontinued in 2006.
This is a very long-term move, as the school will “initiate the start of men’s and women’s golf” in the 2016-2017 season, and add women’s soccer in 2020.
The move was blamed on the fact that the Aggies’ conference, the MEAC, doesn’t sponsor swimming. North Carolina A&T’s program resides in the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) with two other MEAC programs, Howard and Florida A&M, as well as teams like Florida Gulf Coast, Gardner-Webb, and Liberty.
“We are committed to moving all of our athletic programs into a position where they can compete for conference championships because as it stands now, winning a conference title gives us our best chance to advance to an NCAA playoff,” said Director of Athletics Earl M. Hilton III in a statement.
“Our swimming program has produced great athletes and outstanding citizens in our society. Many of our swimmers have been tremendously successful after graduating from North Carolina A&T. We must, however, move our department to where every athlete has the opportunity to compete for a conference and NCAA title. I don’t see a scenario where the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference will sponsor swimming in the foreseeable future.”
North Carolina A&T finished 13th out of 13 teams at last year’s CCSA Championships, scoring all 44 of their points on relays. They likely would have placed one spot higher, ahead of VMI, had it not been for a DQ in the meet-opening 200 free relay.
All scholarships will be honored through the 2015-2016 season. Shawn Hendrix, who was the head coach of the program since 1998, is no longer listed on the team’s website for the 2013-2014 season.