Eastern Michigan Swimming Cut Hits Harder than Most

Of the run of swimming & diving programs to be cut over the last decade, Tuesday’s announcement that Eastern Michigan would drop their men’s swimming & diving team is one of the most stunning and perplexing yet. The program is one of the school’s most successful, having won 34 MAC conference titles, including 3 of the last 4. While every cut program leads to an outpouring of emotions ranging from anger and frustration to sympathy and support for those who lost their teams, the latest cut seems to have hit a special chord with swim fans across the country. The emotion seems to be hinged upon the realization that no level of competitive success appears to be enough to save a program, not even if that program is the most successful one on campus. For coaches, that means that being good at your job isn’t enough. For athletes, that means choosing a school that’s a good fit for you, giving all of yourself to that school, and excelling in the classroom and the pool isn’t enough.

While the Clemson and Maryland cuts earlier this decade might have drawn a similar outcry because of the prominence of the schools at large, those cuts came in the infancy of social media (and of SwimSwam, where I reported the news for a predecessor site, The Swimmers’ Circle, that many of you have probably never heard of).

Below, see the Tweets that have flooded our timeline in the hour-or-so since we reported the news. The flood of responses has come at an unprecedented rate, even compared to other recent Division I cuts like Wright State and Buffalo. Take note: efforts to change the course of Eastern Michigan’s decision have already begun, and we will be calling on the same emotion that has prompted today’s reaction on social media and in the comments section in the coming months to support that effort in concrete ways. We know our audience won’t go quiet when that times come, much as they didn’t when the swimming community rauised $85,000 last year to stave off Wright State’s cut.

Included among the respondents is Michelle Swift, mother of Carter Swift, the 2018 MAC Freshman of the Year who moved from Australia to swim at Eastern Michigan. The disgust also rang from local and national competitors, showing that saving our sport is above rivalry. Messages also came from people like Joey Puglessi, who currently swims at Cincinnati, and was a member of the Buffalo men’s team that was cut last year. A high school program in Michigan, South Lyon High, was also deeply impacted – 2 of the team’s coaches and 4 of the school’s alumni swam or dove at EMU. Even Sarah Dunleavy, assistant coach with one of the most successful programs of this generation the Cal women, spoke out, calling it “heartbreaking to see.”

See those and more relevant Tweets below:



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A non-e mouse

If I am a high schooler now I am not just looking at swim program but athletic departments as a whole. This is rough for all involved, but the EMU athletic department has been losing money for years and when it comes down to it, swimming doesn’t make many places any money at the college level


In all honesty, how many sports actually make money? In the grand scheme of things, VERY few come out in the green. It’s an excuse and a very poor one at that.


its not supposed to make money.


But what u dont realize is yes they make less than football and basketball BUT they spend ALOT less as well. They are loosing 58 people thats alot of money the school is loosing. Most college swim teams have more kids paying then money the school is spending on the sport. For instance college swim coach salaries at at division one school go anywhere from 40k to 300k for huge schools while football pays 400k to 9mill. In reality, football teams always dont make money and they are EXTREMELY expensive to maintain. Just a few examples, but from an income to expenses ratio it doesnt make since to cut swimming in most situations. Just look at the Dakota team that… Read more »


Before reading any further into my comment remember I don’t think any college swim team should be cut…. However… Swimming produces the least amount of money if any is produced at all. For all we know they are cutting programs to notlonger be considered division 1, by cutting overall sport counts. The 58 people they are losing doesn’t matter…. because there were 58 people that applied but were never admitted to the college. It’s about net gain. If a football program spends 30 million but produces 32 million… That is considerably better than a swim team that spends 600,000 and produces 0. I love swimming and hate to see it get cut however money is what makes the world go… Read more »

Swimming Fan

“The 58 people they are losing doesn’t matter…. because there were 58 people that applied but were never admitted to the college.” I’m not so sure that’s an accurate assessment. Did EMU really deny admission to 58 students because these athletes took their spots? Are there 58 fungible replacements or would the school have to accept some less qualified students? My guess is that the university won’t completely replace the revenue from the 58 full or partial tuition payers. If so, is that lost revenue greater than the cost of the swim program?


Let’s take a step back and look at it though. Generally a swimmer has an adviser dedicated to the swim team. Then comes tutoring. Then comes athletic department honors/dinners. Then a bunch of other expenses that are potentially being saved.

And yes… if these 58 swimmers are no longer at the school… I would GUARANTEE that there are 58 kids waiting to take their spot to go to a great college/university. Also, Who says that a student athlete is more qualified then a kid who is a non athlete?

If you are being serious and not trolling, I would like to see your numbers or an explanation behind the thought process of them losing revenue by cutting the swim team.


We do not get dinners as swimmers, we have high GPA’s and do not need tutors because we work our asses off in and out of the pool. Many of us could get into other schools academically and athletically, but we chose Eastern for the atmosphere and the team. We LOVE who we swim with and what we swim for. Trust me, we don’t put our bodies through the practices we are given because we are here for the money, we do it because we LOVE it. We are one of the hardest working teams here, and the 34 titles go to show that. Sure “58” other students could take our place, but would they be making an impact on… Read more »




Actually enrolment is down that is why they are cutting the teams .. it’s been shown by an emu accounting professor that they are loosing money by cutting the 4 teams, due to some creative accounting on emus part $125000 debt attributed to the wrestling team in error which was actually football/basketball costs .. swimming scholarships account for 10 swimmers out of the complete men’s team… 9.5 schols as per regs .. they haven’t allowed for the money spent by those teams families in supporters clothinglet alone in the community for accomodation and visits to local restaurants etc ..my son is an international student and we spent $2000 usd on supporters paraphernalia alone etc over 2 visits in his first… Read more »


The budget for this team is &95,000 and 3/4 of the students pay full or out of staye tuition. This progrsm makes money by brining students to EMU that would otherwise not go there.


These programs do make money, a lot of it. It’s called Alumni Giving. These are the athletes going on to be some of the most successful business men and women that the NCAA produces. I doubt they’ll be doing that now. Even schools producing NBA and NFL players don’t have the amount of giving from those former SA’s as sports like swimming, cross country, etc. I think it was Xavier Univ that in the last few years ran a SA alumni giving competition. I’d have to check but I’m pretty sure Men’s Basketball finished dead last, not even close to many other sports. Yet, they have many current and former NBA players as alumni.


Ever since my school cut the Men’s Swimming & Diving program (The University of Toledo) I haven’t given them a dime. Never will either.


That might be true but I wonder if the football team makes any money either. If I had to make a bet I would say football loses more money to equipment/facility upgrades and scholarships than swimming does even with the broadcasting rights that football generates.


Swimming program is $95,000 but they make well over 1mil in tuition…only 9 scholarships athletes. So that is not the case for this program. Its the most successful and draws students to the school. By the way the womens program is staying they practice at the same time…so


This model of trying to save programs after cuts are announced is futile. The swimming community needs to establish a national fund to endow teams that are at risk, so athletic directors don’t even consider cutting swimming. It’s sad that we are at this spot, but if we want to save the sport, we need to take matters into our own hands.


Be nice if the institutions involved gave the cut teams an opportunity to fund raise or find support prior to announcing they were cutting them .. our Mac conference swimmers finished competing 2 weeks later 7.30 in the morning told 4 teams cut, and head coaches were only informed the night before .. disgraceful conduct on the part of EMU


I’m willing to be that less and less kids will choose to swim at mid majors that have football teams. Those are the least safe programs out of anybody

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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