The University of North Dakota will cut its men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs as part of a restructuring plan within the athletic department.
The school announced the move in a press conference this afternoon, though news of the suspected cuts leaked several hours earlier. Brad Schlossman, a reporter with the local Grand Forks Herald, tweeted a photo of the school’s press release, included below:
Official press release on the cutting of UND women's hockey and both men's and women's swimming. pic.twitter.com/htXjB4dUbe
— Brad E. Schlossman (@SchlossmanGF) March 29, 2017
The release announces that women’s hockey will be discontinued, as well as the men’s and women’s swimming & diving programs.
“This is a day I had hoped to never revisit, but here we are,” athletic director Brian Faison said in the press conference. The school is now down to just 17 sports left in its athletic department.
It’s been a bit of a will-they-won’t-they with North Dakota and its swim teams for the past year. The school originally looked at cutting swimming as one of up to four sports last fall in an effort to focus financial resources on fewer teams to make those teams more successful. But the school faced lots of public pushback, including a Facebook post from Olympic hero Katie Ledecky, whose mother grew up in the state of North Dakota as a swimmer. About a week later, the school made an announcement saying that it would not be cutting any sports.
University president Mark Kennedy called the idea of cutting any of the school’s 20 sports “a closed conversation as far as I’m concerned.”
But the Grand Forks Herald now reports that Kennedy has asked the school’s athletic department to get rid of $1.3 million from its budget in response to an anticipated drop in funding from the state.
North Dakota competes in the NCAA’s Division I and in the Western Athletic Conference for men and women, with both programs taking 5th this past year.