Clemson to Close McHugh Natatorium Indefinitely

by Spencer Penland 105

June 19th, 2019 ACC, College, News

Clemson University has announced that it will be closing it’s only campus pool, McHugh Natatorium, after July 31st of this year with no current plans to re-open. The university has cited cost as the reasoning for the closure. According to a press release from Clemson, they will be conducting feasibility tests to determine the maintenance needs and costs. The Vice President of Student Affairs, Almeda Jacks, said the university is estimating the repair costs to be roughly $3 million before the feasibility tests are conducted. Jacks also said it’s estimated a new natatorium would cost around $12 million.

McHugh Natatorium consists of an 8-lane, 25 yard pool, and a diving well. Typically, a school of Clemson’s size has a at least one 50 meter (olympic size) pool and a diving well, especially if the school has or had an NCAA swim team. It’s also incredibly rare for any university to not have a pool at all (as Clemson will After McHugh closes), at least for student recreation and fitness, if not for athletic teams.

At a board meeting on Thursday in which the move was discussed, Clemson’s VP of Strategic Communication said that these talks about the future of McHugh Natatorium have been ongoing for years. Clemson Aquatic Team, the local USA Swimming club team, was told back in December that they would have to find a new facility to conduct their practices.

The move comes almost a decade after Clemson cut its men’s and women’s swimming teams after the 2010-2011, and cut the women’s diving program in 2017, eliminating the last of its NCAA sponsored aquatics programs. When the swim teams were cut, Clemson had also cited costs for repairs and operational costs as the primary reason. With the pool itself now on the chopping block, a vast number of programs, including club swimming, club water polo, club triathlon, and many other university functions will be without a facility. Outside the university, community programs such as Tiger Sharks swim lessons and a local diving club will be without a pool as well.

The move also comes not long after Clemson spent $55 million on a new football facility in 2017. The facility has been ranked in the top 2 college football facilities for the past two years. That facility does include a pool, pictured below. The money for that facility came from Clemson’s athletics department and IPTAY: the school’s booster club organization.

Courtesy: HOK

We have reached out to Clemson’s administration for a comment on the decision to close the pool, but they have not responded.

The vice president of the Clemson University Swim Club, Scott Eibel, reached out to SwimSwam to raise awareness there are efforts being conducted to try stop the permanent closure of McHugh Natatorium. You can read Scott’s statement below:

SwimSwam welcomes reader submissions about all topics aquatic, and if it’s well-written and well-thought, we might just post it under our “Shouts from the Stands” series. We don’t necessarily endorse the content of the Shouts from the Stands posts, and the opinions remain those of their authors. If you have thoughts to share, please send [email protected]

This “Shouts from the Stands” submission comes from Scott Eibel, vice president of the Clemson University Swim Club.

Clemson University has unfortunately made the decision to close the pool indefinitely on 7/31/2019 for a safety/feasibility study. The University says that the decision of having a pool on campus will be based on the outcome of the feasibility study. Currently, there are no future or current plans to have a pool for students to use whatsoever.

Our main goal regarding the future of a pool in Clemson is to get the support of all current students and alumni. We need to stress that the reason for keeping a pool on campus is for all Clemson students and faculty to use it for fitness along with the numerous clubs and activities who use the pool. Here’s a list of groups who use the Fike Recreation Center pool:

Club Swimming
Club Water Polo
Club Triathlon
Scuba classes
Kayaking classes
Clemson Aquatics Team
Clemson LIFE
CPR and Lifeguard certification courses
Aquatic Fitness classes
Local diving club
ROTC training
Physical therapy
Tiger Shark Swim lessons
The hundreds of students and faculty who use the pool for general fitness.

When Clemson closes its pool on July 31st, that would make Clemson the only ACC and major school in the country to not have a pool for student’s use.

What we (Clemson University students, alumni, and staff) want out of our administration:  Clemson University should wait to close the Fike Recreation pool until there are plans in place to fix or build a new
and improved pool for students to use. Any current fixes should be made to the pool in order to keep it functional until there are plans to build a new pool.

If you would like to contact the school about this terrible situation, please call or email Dr. George Smith at (864)-656-2161 and [email protected] and/or email David Frock at [email protected]. If
you have any other connections in Clemson’s administration, feel free to try to get them to support the Clemson student population!

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So if the avg cost of attending clemson, per year, is $16770, and the cost to repair the pool is 3 mil, it would cost the school about 179 students’ tuitions to pay for repairs. Which is less than 1% of the student population of 18,660.

Coach Coach

Exactly, this is definitely a McHuge mistake.


We pay closer to $50 k out of state!! I’m so upset about this 😢

Brian M

Clemson is just a professional football program masquerading as a University. Any self respecting institution of this size would never not have a aquatics facility regardless of the presence of a swim program (there are many more uses for a pool other than a swim team). Another example of how Clemson will always be Moo U. no matter how big they think they are.

James W Alverson

No doubt. $55m for the football team….not counting the handshake payments but $3m for a pool is too much . Just a note for anyone reading this that is considering Clemtech….THE University of South Carolina has both indoor and outdoor pools for students to use.

John D Eason

Fish ponds at chicken u. More likely. Maybe your swimming team will win you something.


At least they have one and state of the art swim facilities and superb recreation facilities!! To be clear… we are a Clemson family…. but we can look at the university objectively and say that what is going on here at Clemson is just wrong 😢


That’s correct…and they are not thinking of their staff either! At many universities, professors and staff swim for fitness and their kids learn to swim at the university pool! Swimming is a life skill and in fact, no student should graduate college without passing a swim class (some colleges require this; the revenue from this course could also help fund the pool).


The football coach makes 9 million a year

I want to know what costs 3 million to repair an 8 lane 25 yard pool? That sounds like the most expensive 8 lane pool of all time

He Gets It Done Again

When people don’t want to pay for something one trick they often use is to vastly overstate how much it will cost


agreed – thats how the Matrix works …


It sure does.

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