Arizona St. Will Redshirt Entire Swimming Roster for 2020-2021 NCAA Season

The Arizona State Swimming & Diving program has opted to redshirt its entire roster, for both the men’s and women’s programs, for the 2020-2021 season. In essence, this cancels the team’s competitive season.

Editor’s Note: a “redshirt” in NCAA parlance essentially means sitting out a season and extending a college career by a year. With some exceptions, student-athletes in Division I are allowed to use this rule once in their collegiate career. NCAA student-athletes get 4 seasons of eligibility in any one sport, and redshirt seasons don’t count against that eligibility.

They are the first swimming & diving program to announce a move this drastic as an independent unit from a total institutional suspension of competition amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Most such cancellation announcements have been made by schools or conferences at a wider span.

They are also the first program in a Power 5 conference (Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC, SEC) that has announced that it will miss any portion of the 2020-2021 NCAA swimming and diving season. SwimSwam was unable to find any other programs in a Power 5 conference in any sport that has canceled the 2020-2021 season yet.

“In March, (Vice President for University Athletics) Ray Anderson challenged all Sun Devil head coaches to find ways to make our programs stronger after the COVID-19 crisis,” says head coach Bob Bowman, who was the 2016 U.S. Men’s Olympic team coach. “This decision clearly accomplishes that goal. It promotes the health and safety of our student-athletes, enhances their educational opportunities and allows time to rebuild and refocus on performing at the highest levels of NCAA competition.”

The program is expecting the entire roster to return for the 2021-2022 season, in addition to new incoming freshmen. The school says that it can accomplish this plan within existing scholarship limits.

The announcement primarily will impact swimmers; the school had no divers expected on its roster for 2020-2021, and its former coach, Mark Bradshaw, retired from the program at the end of last season and said that he believes the school would be cutting the diving program. The school denied that.

A handful of Arizona State swimmers already sat out last season to prepare for the Olympic Games, including two-time NCAA Championship scorer Grant House. House’s absence was technically a ‘waiver,’ and incoming freshman Jarod Arroyo technically ‘deferred’ his career. Given the unique circumstances, including the postponement of the Olympic Games, there is a chance that the NCAA will grant latitude in waiving the “5 years to complete 4 seasons of eligibility” rules in these specific cases.

Arizona has been one of the hardest-hit states in the growth of new positive tests for coronavirus cases in the United States. On May 27, the state’s 7-day average of now cases was 338 – a low for Arizona, which escaped relatively-unscathed from the early days of the pandemic. By July 6, that average had risen to over 3,800 new positive tests per day. That number has been dropping over the last 3 weeks, however, with around 2,600 new cases daily over the last week after the state rolled back some of its reopening guidelines.

In total, the state has recorded 162,014 positive tests for coronavirus and 3,307 deaths. Deaths attributed to COVID-19 have risen in the month of July as well.

2 weeks ago, Arizona State laid out tentative plans for the fall semester, which included a mixture of in-person and online courses. The exact logistics for each class will be decided on a class-by-class basis.

The Pac-12 Conference, of which Arizona State is a part, has moved football, volleyball, and soccer to a conference-only plan for the fall of 2020. No plans have been announced yet for winter sports like swimming & diving.

Arizona State’s women finished 5th at last year’s Pac-12 Championships, while the men finished 4th. The 2020 NCAA Championship meet was canceled, but in 2019 the Arizona State women placed 20th and the men placed 21st at the NCAA Championships.

Competitively, Arizona State’s strength is in its rising senior class. This move will delay their expiration from the program by a season.

The Full Arizona State Press Release Is Below

Coming off an abbreviated season that included the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Championships and with the double-semester season just a few months away, Arizona State University head swimming & diving coach Bob Bowman announced – after consulting with team and parents – each member of the 2020-21 squad will redshirt and begin focus on the 2021-22 season and Olympic aspirations. 

All involved parties agree this plan will allow for maximum flexibility and confidence for the student-athletes and their families in regards to their location and practice situation due to COVID-19. All members of the Sun Devil swimming & diving programs will redshirt and only train in 2020-21, with the expectation the entire roster will return in 2021-22.

“In March, (Vice President for University Athletics) Ray Anderson challenged all Sun Devil head coaches to find ways to make our programs stronger after the COVID-19 crisis,” says Bowman, who was the 2016 U.S. Men’s Olympic team coach. “This decision clearly accomplishes that goal. It promotes the health and safety of our student-athletes, enhances their educational opportunities and allows time to rebuild and refocus on performing at the highest levels of NCAA competition.”

This plan, which can be accomplished within existing scholarship limits, allows the student-athletes to enroll in courses as full-time students across all learning platforms and will allow most to pursue graduate degrees in a five-year window.

“Many of our student-athletes will now have the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree during their additional year on campus,” adds Bowman, who has coached nine Pac-12 individual champions in his five years. “This is a tremendous benefit which we are excited to offer to a tremendous team which has great academic goals.”

Added Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson, “This unique approach will provide additional opportunities for these student-athletes to pursue educational endeavors. Our goal as a department is to provide an elite student-athlete experience and this methodology will allow an additional year on campus for these student-athletes to train and achieve championship performance together, but also realize new academic goals.”

The past four months have not allowed proper training, but under the new plan Bowman knows the shifting of goals to a more realistic timeline is advantageous for NCAA and Olympic championship level athletes.

“With a renewed clarity of purpose, we can shift our focus to long course swimming and preparation for the Olympic qualifying competitions next year,” Bowman said. “We know this process will best prepare our team to excel at the highest levels of our sport and will take our program to the next level.”

With competition events normally starting in September and finishing in March, a typical swimming/diving competition schedule takes place over seven months. The stress of any cancellations and all team travel is now eliminated and budgets can be adjusted.

“We know this is our best course of action. It gives us clarity, direction and a good plan that our team can benefit as athletes and students, and allows families to feel at ease over being able to watch their Sun Devils at the 2022 NCAA Championships, which was taken away last year,” added Bowman. “Our teams and our program are in great shape. It is the summer of 2020 and some additional things have to be considered. We are very confident in this plan and know it is the best interests of our program, our student-athletes and our athletic department. Much thought went into it and we are excited to start working with a firm training calendar.”

The past season and program’s future is highlighted by Jack Dolan being named the Pac-12 Freshman Swimmer of the Year, just the second in Sun Devil history. Emma Nordin (500 free) and Zach Poti (100 backstroke) each won Pac-12 titles, with Nordin clocking the nation’s fastest time in her win. The programs combined for 18 team records last season and senior Silja Kansakoski closed out her career winning the athletic department’s Bill Kajikawa Award, presented annually to one male and one female in recognition for his and her demonstrated academic excellence, athletic accomplishment leadership and service in the community.

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Lil Swimmy
11 months ago

very interesting!

Anonymous
Reply to  Lil Swimmy
11 months ago

How many student athletes would want to squander a year of eligibility with a truncated season?

Deepsouth
11 months ago

I did not see this coming.

coach
Reply to  Deepsouth
11 months ago

This is being discussed more and more in the college swimming ranks, particularly when parents of out of state swimmers are being asked to pay tuition for potentially a semester or two of online classes. I know Cal discussed this option with incoming freshmen back in May.

Meet Mobilemom
11 months ago

Brilliant move. It completely takes the uncertainty out of the present situation. Hope more schools follow suit.

B hole surfer
Reply to  Meet Mobilemom
11 months ago

why all the down votes

Justin Thompson
Reply to  B hole surfer
11 months ago

Probably more to do with the realization that there won’t be a college swim season in 2020/2021.

Phelp’s dog
11 months ago

How is this even allowed

John
Reply to  Phelp’s dog
11 months ago

How is it not? Is there a limit on the amount of redshirts in a team per season in NCAA rule book?

This seems above board

Washed Up Swimmer
11 months ago

Hope other schools follow. Let student athletes take a breather and not live on empty hope of having some sort of broken season.

swimmer
Reply to  Washed Up Swimmer
11 months ago

i hope they dont. because other schools wont be able to afford to have 5 classes next year. swimming is a safe sport to do if its one person/household per lane. also theres always options for virtual meets. this just seems like they are taking the easy way out instead of trying to figure out other ways to have a season

Swammer
Reply to  swimmer
11 months ago

I mean in theory yes you can social distance I guess? But usually there’s 5 people in each lane, 40 people on each side. Are you going to hold 4 separate practices so each one is only 1/4 capacity? What about doubles, do they really think coaches are going to run 8 practices/day all day long? At least with outdoor sports there’s always a bigger field, coaches can split up and have multiple workouts going on at once. With swimming there’s 1 pool and there’s nothing you can do about it. Virtual meets would be a logistical nightmare, who would be responsible for getting officials, touchpads, timers, etc? Certainly not the swimmers, they have no idea how any of that… Read more »

swimmer
Reply to  Swammer
11 months ago

um i totally disagree. swimming is one of the safest sports bc there is no contact unlike field sports. ik some schools only have an 8 lane pool. but asu has a big pool along with other schools. one household per lane could be 5 people in a lane. then you just alternate sides to keep distance. also they have an outdoor pool which is very safe. its not like asu is not gonna train this year. virtual meets are fine. as my coach has done one in the 90s and just faxed everything over. as a swimmer sometimes you just want to get up and rac you dont need fans, bc most of the time swimming at other smaller… Read more »

New girl
Reply to  swimmer
11 months ago

I agree, it would be IDEAL if we could have social distance practices throughout an entire season in order to avoid outbreaks. It would be ideal to assume that there would be enough consistency in training in the first few months that there would be virtual meets. We have already seen programs that had to halt training due to outbreaks, and it is going to be interesting to see how smooth it is/how long it takes to get the teams back in the water. What happens if the coaches get sick? What happens if the athletic trainers are exposed? What happens to the athletes in those cases? Do we just keep holding our breath for a vaccine and herd immunity… Read more »

JCO
11 months ago

Feel bad for the seniors who don’t have a chance at a pro swimming career/making nations teams. Are they supposed to just stay at ASU to swim and delay the start of their work career?

Deepsouth
Reply to  JCO
11 months ago

It reads as if those seniors (21 grads) are staying and starting their masters while completing year 5

Obv there will be some attrition but that’s the way the press release reads

It does leave those who aren’t super excited about this plan in a weird spot. Transferring for 20-21 would be damm tough right now.

DLswim
Reply to  JCO
11 months ago

It’s hard to find jobs right now. May be a wise decision.

Anon
Reply to  JCO
11 months ago

I think that even for a lot of these swimmers, a lot of which are high potential hopefuls, know that they are swimming for four years and then they will move on. I am not sure what I would do in this case but it sucks for the people who dream of competing for four years knowing they will be done and moving away from the sport afterwards.

Swimmom
Reply to  JCO
11 months ago

Okay honestly getting a master’s for life vs ???? Uncertainty of there being a season. Missing 8 cycles of training in a field where some trained all along and others had -0- access? This move is genius and gives swimmers the opportunity to start and build together in an already broken season. Honestly if my swimmer was a freshman I’d be thrilled honestly even as a senior it makes sense!

SwimMom
Reply to  Swimmom
11 months ago

Most kids aren’t on a full ride… so this will cost some of them financially if they want their four years of eligibility.

Anonymous
Reply to  Swimmom
11 months ago

At least one college has a new pool on the way and old pool is shutdown to be torn down. And the diving coach that they loved left for personal reasons.

Anon
11 months ago

I don’t know If I agree or disagree with this but I know I feel unsettled and worried about things to come

SSwimer
11 months ago

They’re gonna have to raise the scholarship caps because i bet every team in america does this and then next year you have 5 classes of athletes all needing that scholarship money

Deepsouth
Reply to  SSwimer
11 months ago

The hint in the article is they traded diving scholarship dollars for more swim scholarship money

And there will be attrition. 0% chance 100% of these kids come back next year, even putting their high transfer rate aside.

Theswammer
Reply to  SSwimer
11 months ago

No they don’t. You make this decision with those things in mind. NCAA isn’t just going to allow ASU an additional 2-3 full rides on each side now. You figure out who moves on/gets paid out and who stays on scholarship.

SSwimer
Reply to  Theswammer
11 months ago

The problem is no matter where you think there’s a solution, somebody is gonna get forked over (ASU pun not intended)

Irish Ringer
Reply to  SSwimer
11 months ago

With already tight budgets my guess is that they’ll decrease scholarships if this is done at other schools. Granting an extra year to all those who have a scholarship isn’t going to help with the bottom line for schools already seeing a budget deficit.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder 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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