NCAA Champ Schneider Fears for Future of Cincinnati Swimming

In an interview with Cincinnati.com, 2010 50 freestyle NCAA Champ Josh Schneider revealed that he is not confident that Cincinnati swimming will be around much longer. That’s because, prior to this season, the Bearcats were informed that all scholarship funding to their program would be cut.

Schneider, who earned a full-scholarship after his sophomore year, was quoted as saying “It’s almost like cutting off the blood to your heart. You’re going to die slowly. That’s pretty much what the program is going to do. I hope not, but you can’t have a successful team without scholarships. It’s just not going to work.”

Although his metaphor might have been slightly graphic, his point is clear. You can’t run a successful division 1 athletics program without scholarships. I predict that he is likely correct in this statement, despite the opinion that has been bandied about on blogs and message boards that simply cutting scholarships is the way to prevent the slew of swimming programs that have been cut. Many people are of the opinion that struggling swimming programs can model themselves after the relatively successful club swimming model. It’s clear, to this writer at least, that there’s no way to field a successful team at the division-1 level without scholarships. For an athletics department that’s already struggling financially, the resulting lack of success will make for an easy decision to fully remove the program.

Either way, the theory will be tested over the next few years, as the last scholarship athletes graduate out of the program, at which point the entire roster will consist of essentially preferred walk-ons. The decision to cut scholarships couldn’t have come at a worse time, as Cincinnati swimming was at it’s highest point since 1946, the last time they had an individual swimming national champion (Charles Keating in the 200 breaststroke). Now, head coach Monty Hopkins will have to hit the recruiting trail double time to try and carry this momentum forward, even without any scholarships.

Although Schneider harbors no ill-will towards the UC administration for the decision (“business is business”), many see this as the continuation of irresponsible fiscal decisions by the athletics department, that includes sinking lots of money into a basketball program that was once the crowned jewel of the University, but has been hemorrhaging money since the very public departure of star head coach Bob Huggins.

Schneider is optimistic, though that the athletics department will reverse their decision, in light of recent success.

“I think they will be able to get it back,” he said. “I don’t know how long it will take. If not, they’ll have to cut it. They’re just waiting for it to implode.”

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The Screaming Viking!

Well, call me a jack-ass. I thought they had already started the process to add some of the funding back after NCAA’s. Apparently, I must have dreamt it. Weren’t there comments made that implied that Schneider’s performance at the show this year had them talking to boosters and making negotiations?
Was there any talk at all?

It all depends on your definition of “success”: we may not compete for the NCAA championship, but I’m very satisfied by the quality of the program and level of results produced at Harvard, my alma mater. So my belief is that you CAN have a successful scholarship-free program. But if your conference allows scholarships (which of course the Ivy League does not), it is difficult to impossible to win against schools that offer scholarships, just as it’s difficult to impossible for Harvard and our Ivy League brethren to win at NCAAs against schools with scholarships. But do you have to be able to compete at the top of your conference in order for a programs to have value? I’m not… Read more »

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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