Another Northeastern D3 Swim Program Gone: Cabrini University Will Sell to Villanova

Cabrini University in suburban Philadelphia will sell its campus to nearby Villanova, closing the financially-troubled university in 2024. That eliminates yet another small-school swimming program in the Northeast in what has been a tough year for the region.

Cabrini, located in Radnor, Pennsylvania, is a small Catholic university that opened in 1957. It is located less than 2 miles from the larger, much older, and much more well-known Catholic school, Villanova University, which sponsors NCAA Division I men’s and women’s swimming & diving programs.

Cabrini has faced years of financial troubles, operating with a budget deficit since 2013, but several changes to reignite the school’s revenue and reduce expenses have come up short. Even after cuts to staff during the pandemic, last year saw the school run a $5 million deficit on a $45 million budget.

If the boards of both schools approve the sale of the campus to Villanova, Cabrini will reopen in the fall for its final two semesters.

Last year, Cabrini had an enrollment of 1,186 undergraduates and 430 graduate students. Other local colleges, including Gwynedd Mercy University and Rosemont College, announced after the news broke that they would accept Cabrini transfer credits and match their student aid packages.

The addition of Cabrini’s campus will grow the school’s 260 acres by an additional 112 acres, opening what will be known as the Villanova Cabrini campus. Villanova plans to continue some of Cabrini’s programs in nursing, education, service, immigration, and the advancement of women.

The school has long focused on social justice learning and was one of the first schools in the country to require community service from undergraduate students as part of its curriculum.

Cabrini’s D3 swimming program had 13 women and and 8 men last season. The team was lead by head coach Cindy Ikeler, with assistants Josh Pace and Beaghann Smith supporting her.

All but one member of the team came from Pennsylvania or nearby states New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.

The programs compete in the Atlantic East Conference; last year, the women finished 3rd out of 7 teams and the men finished 3rd out of 6 teams.

The team won conference championships in women’s swimming in 2014 (AMCC), and then three-straight in 2018, 2019, and 2020 (Atlantic East).

The men’s team won four-straight championships from 2019 through 2022.

Small colleges around the country are facing financial challenges. Neighboring New York has lost 5 NCAA swimming programs this year; four of those were NCAA Division III schools.

Two of those schools, Medaille University and Cazenovia College, have shut down entirely.

Unlike those programs, though, Cabrini University swimmers might have a year to find their next home. The school has not yet announced what will happens to its athletics teams for next season (at least one coach, the head lacrosse coach, has stepped down), but the students will at a minimum be able to move forward academically next year at Cabrini.

None of the programs reported by local media to be openly-recruiting Cabrini students sponsor swimming & diving programs.

 

 

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DelcoCoach
11 months ago

Josh Pace is an extremely passionate, underrated coach. He will be a huge asset to another college program.

the olden days
Reply to  DelcoCoach
11 months ago

Truth!

Coach Tom
11 months ago

Unfortunately, there will be more coming over the next few months as similar schools fail to fill coaching vacancies. A lot of these small, northeastern D3 schools offer laughable salaries ($10,000-$15,000 for the head coach) while expecting full-time commitments during the season. I honestly think a lot of AD’s at these schools view the swim teams as a cash drain, and deliberately create untenable situations for the swim program so they can later cut them.

JimSwim22
Reply to  Coach Tom
11 months ago

It’s like you didn’t read a word of the article. The point isn’t low salaries for swim coaches. The SCHOOL will no longer exist!

swimapologist
Reply to  JimSwim22
11 months ago

Coach Tom always seems to have a lot of very strong opinions for a guy who doesn’t read the articles.

Coach Tom
Reply to  JimSwim22
11 months ago

The article discusses a trend beyond Cabrini and references other schools with programs shutting down for various reasons. It seems you two read it but didn’t grasp the greater context.

JimSwim22
Reply to  Coach Tom
11 months ago

Nope, read it all. 5 schools losing swimming and three of those are sitting down the whole school. Small School swimming in general is thriving. D3 had been growing.
But there will be shake ups coming because the number of graduating high school seniors is going to keep on shrinking. Schools will continue to close

Coach Tom
Reply to  JimSwim22
11 months ago

Small school swimming is “thriving” if you’re a rich kid who can afford to go to schools like Kenyon, Amherst, or Johns Hopkins, where the tuition of 2-3 students pretty much covers the salaries of the entire coaching staff. Look at the top 20 schools in D3 Swim & Dive — we’re averaging well over $60k/year in tuition.

As the article/linked articles mention, swimming is struggling at smaller state colleges. A lot of local kids don’t have the money to swim at the expensive private colleges, and many of the schools that are shutting down programs are their only opportunities to swim in college.

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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