Though there’s nothing quite like the major conference shakeups of the last decade, there is a healthy list of changes coming to swimming and aquatics conferences next season. The most rapidly-expanding conference is the America East, which will add a men’s championship back into the mix while also adding a new women’s program for the 2017-2018 season.
We’ll run through all the conference changes we could dig up below. If there’s a school changing Division I conferences that we didn’t catch, let us know in the comment section and we’ll investigate further.
America East Expansion
The America East Conference will get a host of new programs, mostly owing to the conference’s re-adding of men’s swimming & diving as a conference sport. America East dropped men’s swimming back in 2013, but will resume the sport this coming year after adding VMI’s men’s and women’s programs to the conference slate.
- Binghamton men return from being an independent program competing in the ECAC
- Maine men return from being an independent program competing in the ECAC
- UMBC men return from the CCSA
- VMI men and women join from the CCSA
The America East Championships will now feature 6 women’s programs and 4 men’s programs.
Water Polo Expansion/Realignment
A pair of water polo programs will change conferences, while two more jump from the club level to the intercollegiate level. The WWPA gains two teams, the CWPA one and the Golden Coast will remain stable, gaining one and losing one.
- Fresno Pacific women jump from the Golden Coast Conference into the WWPA (Western Water Polo Association)
- Fresno State women will begin as a new program in the spring of 2018, competing in the Golden Coast Conference
- McKendree women jump from the club level to the varsity level within the WWPA
- McKendree men jump from the club level to the varsity level within the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association)
The Program Cuts
Three conferences will see their swimming & diving roster shrink after a handful of schools elected to cut swimming and/or diving programs for the coming season.
- Buffalo men cut, previously in the MAC
- North Dakota men and women cut, previously in the WAC
- Clemson women’s diving cut, previously in the ACC
Wichita State To The American
The biggest all-sport move of the year is Wichita State joining the American Athletic Conference (also known as “The American” or the AAC). Wichita State – previously in the Missouri Valley Conference – doesn’t sponsor men’s or women’s swimming & diving programs, so that move itself doesn’t change the swimming lineup. However, the Missouri Valley has quickly moved to replace Wichita State, extending an invitation to Valparaiso to jump into the MVC from the Horizon League.
Valparaiso has yet to officially accept the offer, but seems widely expected to make the jump. The Missouri Valley Conference currently only sponsors women’s swimming & diving. That would push the Valpo women into the MVC, but the men may have to compete in a different conference (perhaps the MAC, where the other MVC schools with men’s swim programs compete) unless their addition spurs the MVC to adopt a men’s swimming championship. The MVC would now officially have four member schools with men’s programs: Valparaiso, Missouri State, Southern Illinois and Evansville. The details of Valparaiso’s entrance to the MVC still have to be determined before the school officially makes the jump.
Valparaiso hasn’t been much of a swimming factor lately – they finished 8th of 8 women’s teams and 7th of 7 men’s teams at the Horizon League Championships this past season.
The (Projected) Changes:
- Wichita State (all sports) moves from the MVC into the AAC (no swim programs affected)
- Valparaiso women move from the Horizon League into the MVC*
- Valparaiso men move from the Horizon League into the MAC*
*Pending Valparaiso’s official acceptance of the MVC’s offer and the MVC’s arrangement for its men’s swim programs