A group of East Carolina alumni have raced $200,575 in pledged donations in just 2 days since launching a campaign to save the men’s and women’s swimming & diving programs.
Last week, the school cut the programs, along with men’s and women’s tennis, as part of its effort to close a $10 million budget shortfall. Athletics Director Jon Gilbert said that the program was already in financial trouble prior to the global coronavirus pandemic, but that the financial strain of that outbreak grew the pressure to make deeper cuts into the athletics program.
Organizers of the fundraising say that their goal is to reach $1.5 million in pledged donations. According to an East Carolina working group that examined the plan to cut spending in the athletics program, the combined estimated budget for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs for fiscal year 2020 was $640,000.
The department, however, pointed to long-term facility issues as part of the decision to cut the swimming & diving program.
The group is also applying for grants that have been donated to other athletics programs on campus.
They have not yet gotten any feedback from the athletics department on what it would take to save the program.
In addition to a petition, which has almost 15,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning, and new social media accounts dedicated to saving the programs, the group says that they believe that expanded rosters, and the tuition dollars that those rosters bring, would result in a net financial gain to the university. This is based on the work of a sports economists, who has made certain assumptions that do tend to favor the argument that these 4 cut programs are, on net, profitable.
Former head coach Rick Kobe, who won over 500 meets as an NCAA head coach, retired in 2017 after a 37-year career with the Pirates.
Key Information on how to help:
- To pledge a donation, email [email protected]
- For updates, follow @saveecuswimdive on Instagram
- For updates, follow @saveECUswimdive on Twitter
The East Carolina Pirates are the defending AAC champions in men’s swimming & diving, with four conference titles in six years as a member of the conference. The women finished 4th last year out of six programs. The team regularly qualifies swimmers for the NCAA Championship meet, including 1 female swimmer in 2020. Kristen Stege, in the first official mile race of her career, win the AAC title, broke the AAC Record, and qualified for the NCAA Championships. Stege previously announced that she will be transferring to Tennessee in the fall.
On the men’s side, the school was due to send butterflier Gustavo Santos to the NCAA Championships before they were cancelled. He was the 18th seed in the 100 fly. Santos was a senior.