Division I program Radford University in Virginia has announced that it will be cutting its women’s swimming and diving program, along with a slew of other NCAA varsity programs, and adding women’s lacrosse to its offerings.
The Board of Visitors on Tuesday voted to add women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport, and cut:
- women’s field hockey
- women’s swimming & diving
- men’s indoor track & field
- men’s outdoor track & field
The discontinuation of the programs will be swift, with the cuts taking effect at the conclusion of the teams’ 2013-2014 seasons.
According to Director of Athletics Robert Lineburg, the move was due to a number of factors, including local participation and conference sponsorship. Radford is in the Big South Conference which doesn’t sponsor swimming, and now all 16 of the school’s varsity sports will be able to compete in their conference.
The swim team participates in the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) along with many other programs whose conferences don’t sponsor swimming. Radford finished 10th out of 13 teams in the conference last season.
The Highlanders graduated their best swimmer, sprinter Emily Turner after last season, though they were getting good performances from the likes of freshman Laura Bradley this season.
The school will honor scholarships for as long as the athletes’ remaining eligibility, or they will be allowed to transfer immediately.
Statement by Director of Athletics Robert Lineburg on the changes:
A successful Division I athletics department, like any successful organization, cannot remain static. It must identify a strategy to best serve the University and its Student-Athletes for the long term. As a result, the University’s athletics strategic plan recognized the need for a thoughtful and forward-looking assessment of the University’s NCAA Division I sports offerings to ensure meeting the Athletics Department mission to “guide, inspire, and support our Student-Athletes in their quest for excellence – academically, athletically, and socially.” It also addressed the future needs of the University and the next generation of Highlander Student-Athletes.
That assessment involved more than a year of extensive study and strategic analysis which considered many factors, including competitive success, high school and college sports participation rates, and resource requirements. It focused on the most effective means for fulfilling the University’s athletics strategic plan, which includes a commitment to enable our Student-Athletes to achieve ambitious academic, athletic, and personal aspirations, and to compete successfully for conference championships and national recognition. The analysis also evaluated the Athletics budget, its ongoing expectations for support, the facilities needs for the entire department, and the costs associated with providing appropriate venues for competition in each sports program.
While this reconfiguration serves the best interests of the majority of our current and future Student-Athletes, we recognize how disappointing this decision is for our affected Student-Athletes, their families, coaches, and alumni. This is an extremely hard decision to make. The University and the Athletics Department are proud of the Student-Athletes who have competed on these teams as Highlanders. We are equally grateful to them and the coaching professionals for their many contributions to Radford University.
The University will make every effort to assist those Student-Athletes affected by this decision. For current students who choose to continue their undergraduate education at the University, Radford will honor their athletics scholarships until they graduate or for a period equal to their remaining NCAA eligibility and continue to grant them full access to our academic support systems in the Athletics Department’s Learning Enhancement Center. The department will also grant immediate release to any Student-Athlete who chooses to transfer and compete at another institution.
Beginning in the 2015-16 academic year, the University will sponsor 16 NCAA Division I programs. All will compete in the Big South Conference.
As a part of a realignment in the Athletics offerings at Radford University, the Board of Visitors voted Tuesday to confirm the addition of women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport for the Highlanders. This reconfiguration also discontinues the University’s varsity sponsorship of the field hockey, swimming and diving, men’s indoor track and field, and men’s outdoor track and field programs effective at the conclusion of their 2013-14 seasons, respectively.