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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Meredith
2 years ago
avidreader
Reply to  Meredith
2 years ago

Can we stop with the online petitions? Maybe if everyone stopped circulating petitions and started doing real work to save their programs, something would change.

SorryNotSorry
2 years ago

While this is unfortunate for swimming, I don’t feel too bad for this program. What has this program done for female swimmers in the state of NC? On the 2019/2020 women’s roster of 25 swimmers, 10 are international recruits and only 2 are NC swimmers. Compare that to Chapel Hill with 1 international swimmer and 10 swimmers from North Carolina. NC State has 5 international swimmers and 10 NC swimmers while UNCW has no international recruits and 13 North Carolina swimmers.
As a North Carolina tax paying resident who has been on the pool deck for many years as a swimmer, swim-parent and a coach, I thought it stunk that this program would not return an email to a… Read more »

Coach
Reply to  SorryNotSorry
2 years ago

I believe this is called, cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Now there is a 0% chance any NC student-athlete, or any student-athlete period, will ever get an opportunity to swim at ECU. It’s a major blow for the AAC and swimming at the FBS level (especially Group of 5). It’s just downright bad for swimming as a whole.

Disagreeing with recruiting/coaching philosophy is fine. Everyone is free to their opinions. You can’t call yourself a supporter/fan of the sport and see this as anything other than a terrible sign for our sport and something that should be mourned.

SorryNotSorry
Reply to  Coach
2 years ago

Maybe more accurately called sour grapes. You are correct and I agree this is terrible for the sport, I just don’t feel bad about this particular program. I did see they just signed a young lady from NC. But just one.
They do have a number of young men from in state, on last years roster. I just thought it wasn’t fair to the young women and still don’t feel bad.

SaveECU
Reply to  SorryNotSorry
2 years ago

They already had 4 NC commits for the class of 2021.

Boogie Man
2 years ago

Having been a part of college swimming first as an athlete and then as a coach for over 20 years, I feel blessed. I knew the day of reckoning was on the horizon. We know that this sport is amazing in so many ways, but admin does not see it the way we all do. It always comes down to numbers, and unfortunately we (collectively as a sport) do not have good supporting numbers when you consider the huge cost of keeping up a pool as compared to lacrosse, cross-country, etc. We knew back then that all that was needed was a triggering event to have a reason to start trimming the fat.

Swimfanx3
2 years ago

Just heartbreaking for the swimmers, coaches and everyone involved. Coach Jabs is a very talented Coach who is well liked by his swimmers.

Ole 99
2 years ago

As of 2018, only 29 FBS schools broke even on sports. 2nd quartile schools lost about $10 million. 3rd/4th quartile Schools lost about $20 million. Even without swimming/non-revenue sports, It doesn’t appear that most schools are breaking even with even the “revenue” sports.

MuhFEELINGS
2 years ago

Everyone is crying while refusing to accept the fact that swimming is not a revenue sport. Until people accept that fact, more and more programs will bite the dust. Or maybe yall can sue for “equal pay equal pay” like USA women’s soccer cause MuhFEELINGS

NC Swim Fan
Reply to  MuhFEELINGS
2 years ago

@muhfeelings guess you had a real axe to grind about the USWNT because there is no relationship between the two scenarios though I wish there were. That would mean college swimming’s visibility was to college football/basketball’s visibility as the US women were to the US men in soccer, and our women are far more visible than our men. And I also wish you had a point in that all we have to do is recognize that swimming is non-revenue and that will save programs. That also makes no sense. Yes, swimming needs football and basketball. I think we can all agree to that. So, do we get ECU swimming back now?

ALLforOne
Reply to  MuhFEELINGS
2 years ago

You’re right 40 swimmers on a team all get a full ride? It makes money but it just doesn’t go to the Athletics department.

damon
Reply to  ALLforOne
2 years ago

You cant say that a team makes money by having a walk on pay tuition. Another student would fill that spot. Terrible argument. This is why teams aren’t ever saved, people bring ridiculous arguments to the table.

Swim Parent
Reply to  ALLforOne
2 years ago

There are very few swimmers who are even on partial scholarship let alone full scholarship, so I don’t think this was a prime financial consideration.

I_Said_It
Reply to  MuhFEELINGS
2 years ago

How does “accept that fact” keep programs dropping? If we all collectively admit that swimming is a non-revenue sport, Schools will refrain from dropping our sport?

That’s not how anything works…

damon
Reply to  I_Said_It
2 years ago

Because the face is programs burn over 1M per year without facility factors. If we want teams to continue to exist we have to support them. Endowments are the only way most will survive. Tuition costs really have things in a bind with fully funding a program.

Old Hilltopper
Reply to  MuhFEELINGS
2 years ago

40-60 swimmers on campus swimming in a pool “that is out of date” that will be paid to run anyway. Yes there is travel, yes there is apparel, etc. But the extra 50 kids on campus, plus siblings because they are on campus, plus parents coming into town for meets. There is no way that swimming “is not a revenue sport” for ECU. Tired of this argument!

dukes dukes dukes
Reply to  MuhFEELINGS
2 years ago

okay boomer

Meredith
Reply to  MuhFEELINGS
2 years ago

Invite you to read this post from a sports economist that shows the swim team has a net positive effect financially at the university. https://www.google.com/amp/s/sportsgeekonomics.tumblr.com/post/618779851390877696/ecu-sinking-swimming-soaking-itself

Captain Ahab
2 years ago

Oh god. Money huh? That’s terrible that’s awful. And they didn’t have too bad of a men’s and women’s swim team. Probably be gone forever, huh? How many kids did they have?

Jack Morrow
2 years ago

Ex ECU diver. 3 time NCAA qualifier. Was lucky to have Ray Scharf as head coach who knew how to stretch a dollar. He was working on a shoe string budget to say the least. I am very sad for the current crop of swimmers and divers. Blah blah blah say the chancellor and AD, they just want more wins from football and basketball. All other sports are an irritant. RIP Swimming and Diving, you were champions from Martinez through Jabs. Heartbreaking. Gonna fill Minges pool in and make it an indoor gym? The money that was donated and earmarked for swimming this year-where will it now be going? Football? Would love to get an answer for that one.

Meredith
Reply to  Jack Morrow
2 years ago

The alumni have been fundraising for years on scholarship endowments named for former coaches. We are trying to find out the value and direct what happens next. Most of tried to do restricted donations.

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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