Lindenwood University announced on May 10th that the university will be cutting its funding for the Women’s Synchronized Swimming program. Lindenwood’s team is classified as a “club” team, rather than a varsity team. The distinction between the two is that a varsity team is officially sponsored by the NCAA, while club teams receive all their funding typically through a combination of their university and self-fundraising efforts, and while they are sponsored by the university, they are not sponsored by the NCAA. There are currently only 4 varsity teams for synchro in the NCAA: Stanford, Ohio State, Incarnate Word, and Wheaton College. Due to this, the 4 varsity teams and the 23 club teams across the country all compete against each other during the season, which culminates in a national championship, called the “U.S. Collegiate Synchronized Swimming Championship”.
Lindenwood’s program was successful in the league, achieving 5 national titles in 11 years, and back-to-back top 3 finishes the past two seasons. In conjunction with the announcement of the cut, Lindenwood also fired Head Coach Mikayla Francese and Assistant Coach Erika Guilbault. Although the university will not be sponsoring the Synchro team going forward, there is the possibility the team could self-fund. A statement from the team indicated that it would be very difficult to raise enough funds, however, saying “The university has given us the option to self fund and run the program on our own if we choose to do so. However, a huge additional expense in our program are pool rental costs as we do not have a pool on campus. In addition to this, a majority of our team is international, therefore we would need to be funded mostly through donations.”
The statement also indicates that the Synchro team is the only Lindenwood team to have its funding cut, and the university described the decision as “purely financial”. According to the team’s coaching staff, the Synchro team’s budget was approximately $80,000 for last season.
Here is a link to the Lindenwood Synchro team Facebook page, which is giving updates on the situation and providing information on how to help, if you are inclined to do so. Also, here is a link to the article on Lindenwood’s news website, which is being updated as the situation progresses.