East Carolina Cuts Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving, Effective Immediately

East Carolina University has cut four of its 20 intercollegiate sports, including men’s and women’s swimming & diving, as part of a plan to save $4.9 million long-term.

The school announced the move in a press release today. ECU will drop to the NCAA minimum of 16 sponsored sports at the Division I level. The ECU Pirates compete in the American Athletic Conference, which was part of the Group of Five conferences that earlier this year asked the NCAA to reduce its minimum number of sponsored sports to below 16 to help schools deal with the budget fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA rejected that request.

ECU will cut the following athletic programs:

  • Men’s swimming & diving
  • Women’s swimming & diving
  • Men’s tennis
  • Women’s tennis

That leaves the school with 9 women’s sports and 7 men’s sports. ECU says that beyond the elimination of those four sports, the athletic department will take other measures to reduce its financial deficit, estimating $4.9 million in long-term savings, with that money used toward “reducing the current deficit and reducing the institutional investment in future years.”

The school will also cut department and sport budgets, save money on travel and scheduling, eliminate several currently-vacant positions, limit summer school offerings for student-athletes and suspend professional development conferences for at least a year.

That comes after an ECU working group found that the athletic department’s financial model was “not sustainable.” That report, which you can read here, was created prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of college sports this spring.

The report already recommended limiting travel expenses for non-revenue sports, as well as eliminating sports.

ECU says 68 student-athletes will be affected by the program cuts. Last year, the team’s roster listed 24 male swimmers & divers and 25 female swimmers & divers. The school says it will honor all scholarships for athletes who wish to remain at ECU, and for incoming freshmen who signed NLIs. Athletes are also able to transfer without sitting out a season.

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.

The cuts – along with UConn’s move back to the Big East – will reduce the AAC to just two men’s swimming & diving programs: Cincinnati and SMU. The conference still has four women’s programs: Houston, SMU, Cincinnati and Tulane. With Cincinnati already cutting its men’s soccer program, the commissioner of the AAC has already hinted that the conference could cancel or reduce its offerings of conference championship events in Olympic sports.

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Nona
1 year ago

I think UConn is moving to the Big East

Big daddy pun
Reply to  Nona
1 year ago

Big East is all catholic schools

Admin
Reply to  Big daddy pun
1 year ago

Almost. Butler is nonsectarian.

Swim Mom
Reply to  Nona
1 year ago

Yes they are – there are only TWO men’s teams in the AAC.

Mike
Reply to  Nona
1 year ago

Uconn Coach sucks 🙂

Actually...
1 year ago

With UCONN headed back to the Big East it leaves 4 women’s teams and just 2 men’s teams. Not sure how you can have a men’s championship now.

Santa
Reply to  Actually...
1 year ago

The big 12 seems to do okay. That conference is a joke

Chrysanthemum
Reply to  Santa
1 year ago

The Big 12 is a joke. Texas dominates every single year without fail.

Jkl
Reply to  Chrysanthemum
1 year ago

We just saw a program vanish and this is your concern.

Swimmer
1 year ago

How will this affect the AAC conference with now there being 3 possibly 2 teams for men’s swimming?

meeeee
1 year ago

These schools and the way they make decisions stink. For instance, they let a girl commit and her article was on SwimSwam on May 6th.

Alum14
Reply to  meeeee
1 year ago

I’m not happy with the cut, as well, but I doubt ECU has been planning this all along and kept it secret.

And if the AD had already decided, its not like he would’ve told the swim coaches, who handle the recruiting.

Additionally, if her SwimSwam article was on May 6th, she likely committed sometime in April, or even earlier. It’s not like SwimSwam articles pop up right after these commitments, unless it’s a top 20 kid maybe.

I’m not defending the cuts, but it also doesn’t seem like blatant dirty tricks are being played. There is a serious reckoning underway with college athletics and budgets, and I fear this is the first of many cuts for swimming programs

meeeee
Reply to  Alum14
1 year ago

And that, among a ton of other things, is the problem i have with AD’s. I think you tell the swim coach about the current decisions. Let them come up with possible ways to keep their program (and job). Don’t let them and athletes flap in the wind. They knew this a month ago for sure. And i think any AD who cuts a sport is a failure at their job and should be immediately fired.

TheSwammer
Reply to  meeeee
1 year ago

What is the swim coach going to do? Find $50,000 of their current budget to save? Even if they did that, they’re cutting things that would take the program down to bare bones anyway. Looping in the coach would just make it messy. That still doesn’t save the necessary money the athletic department is looking for.

Also, keep in mind it doesn’t always boil down to the AD. More times than not, it comes from above and told that a certain amount of money needs to be cut. Read the article and see that many other things are going and it’s extremely unfortunate that such a successful program is leaving the NCAA.

You may be upset but a decision… Read more »

Meeeeeee
Reply to  TheSwammer
1 year ago

many are very resourceful. At least let them try. Maybe a benefactor if given the chance. I wouldn’t want to give up as you seem to be doing. There has to be an answer. Swimming has been a sport for 100 years. We can’t find a way to let it continue. Please.

Alum14
Reply to  meeeee
1 year ago

I don’t disagree with you totally, but you’re oversimplifying it. What is an athletic directors job responsibility truly?

I guarantee you that most ADs care about all of their athletes and want the best for them. When push comes to shove, though, their goal is to keep their overall athletic department running with as much success as possible. ADs, and their alumni that fund them, want to see success and results.

They can’t just make money appear out of nowhere. Fact of the matter is, if you want college swimming to continue, ya need to donate money to programs, and find any other way to support the sport financially.

Many alumni will work together to endow scholarships and… Read more »

Math Magician
Reply to  meeeee
1 year ago

Interesting take on Athletic Directors and being failures for having to cut programs. I can only assume you have vast experience in Athletic Administration and the inner workings of budgetary planning amidst financial crisis. Have you considered the possibility of the President and Board of Directors mandating the cuts? I highly doubt this was an autonomous decision by one administrator.

Creed Ko
Reply to  Math Magician
1 year ago

This is partly the byproduct of a mid-major trying to play big-time football. Perhaps the AD shouldn’t have spent millions on the giant Towne Bank Tower for the football stadium.

Meeeeeee
Reply to  Creed Ko
1 year ago

YES! EXACTLY! Some people just don’t want to believe it.

Meeeeeee
Reply to  Math Magician
1 year ago

I’ve dealt with 2 that have cut programs. One for me back in 1982 and another a couple of years ago for my son. You?

Meeeeeee
Reply to  Math Magician
1 year ago

And yes, i have spoken to the Eastern Michigan Chair of the Board of Trustees. He called me Easter morning 2018 and told me directly that he was working only to save football to keep EMU division 1. Yes, i have plenty of experience.

Robert Miecznikowski
Reply to  Alum14
1 year ago

Terribly sad situation. I think UNCW swimming is next on the chop block. Seen this happen so often.

SwimParent
Reply to  Alum14
1 year ago

Girls did verbally commit on May 6th and after…. recruiting should have been put on hold as soon as they knew any team would be in danger (which was apparently March according to press conference). Wrong and very unprofessional for this level of staff.

swimgeek
1 year ago

Ugh. And there will be more of this.

Brian M
Reply to  swimgeek
1 year ago

Yep. Wish it wasn’t true, but this rodeo is just getting started. This is moving beyond sports to the point where you are most likely going to see a number of institutions just close down completely. People were wondering what would pop the college bubble, and now we have the answer.

Silent Observer
1 year ago

Wow! Was not expecting to read this….

DeepsouthAtl
1 year ago

Feel for Coach Jabs. Just got the gig.

HeadTimer
1 year ago

Sad for all the kids on the ECU swim team. Hope they can find another team if they still want to swim….

Swim3057
Reply to  HeadTimer
1 year ago

The AD, Jon Gilbert has been saying for a few months now that he was faced with the likelihood of having to drop sports. This couldn’t have been easy for him – he’s married to a former All American swimmer and his kids swam too.
Perhaps the two men’s teams remaining in the AAC can join with the 5 schools at the MAC champs (that actually includes only 2 MAC schools) to have a decent championship meet.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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