Birmingham-Southern College, Home to Some of the Best D3 Divers in the Country, Will Close

Another college with a varsity swimming & diving program is closing as small colleges across the country struggle to keep their doors open amid falling enrollment numbers.

Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama announced Tuesday that it will close for good on May 31 after a vote of the Board of Trustees. This comes after failing to reach a deal on a loan support program from the state of Alabama.

“The Board of Trustees voted unanimously today to close the College after a 2024 bill designed to amend the 2023 legislation that established the loan program on which our future depended failed to win sufficient support in the Alabama House of Representatives. Without that funding, the College does not have the resources to continue,” Rev. Ketith D. Thompson, the chair of the BSC Board of Trustees, wrote in a letter. “This is a tragic day for the College, our students, our employees, and our alumni, and an outcome so many have worked tirelessly to prevent. We understand the devastating impact this has on each of you, and we will now direct our efforts toward ensuring the smoothest possible transition for everyone involved.”

The school was asking for $30 million in funding from the state legislature, $5 million from the city coffers, and $2.5 million from the county.

A bill passed by the state and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey in 2023 created a new loan program for public and private universities that would have given BSC just enough money, $30 million, to stay afloat. But State Treasurer Young Boozer III denied the schools application, citing the inability of the school to provide the state with “first-security” interest in its collateral, meaning that in the event of default, the state would receive only a secondary claim on those assets. Boozer also said that he did not believe that the school’s loan repayment plan was not sufficient.

The school disagreed and sued Boozer in October, but that case was dismissed.

Now, local officials are trying to alter the bill to shift the authority to grant loans to the state’s Commission on Higher Education, though school officials say they have confirmed that the bill does not have enough support to pass.

Birmingham Southern College has played host to a number of NCAA Championships in recent years, including the NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving National Championships in 2013, 2017, and 2021.

According to federal data, the school has 1,039 full-time undergraduates, of whom almost half (483 – 46%) are varsity athletes. While the school has more women enrolled than men, it has almost twice as many male athletes as female (318 vs. 165).

Birmingham Southern’s swimming & diving team began the season with 42 athletes – 18 men and 24 women. Both teams finished 3rd out of 7 teams at the SAA Conference Championship meet in February and sophomore Justin Toth was named the SAA Diver of the Year for the second-consecutive season. The diving team, the strength of the program, qualified three for the NCAA D3 Championships, where Toth was 4th on 1-meter and Avery Balch was 3rd on 3-meter.

The school, like many, saw a significant fall in undergraduate enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic, though that seemed to be beginning to recover.

Birmingham Southern is a private liberal arts college located on a 192-acre campus in the Bush Hill community of Birmingham.

Other D2 and D3 universities with swimming programs that have announced closures in the last year include Cabrini University in suburban Philadelphia, College of Saint Rose in New York, and Notre Dame College in Ohio.

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sarah
1 month ago

hello hru

SalParadise
1 month ago

Young Boozer III is the best name I’ve seen so far today

About Braden Keith

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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