North Dakota To Cut Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving Along With Women’s Hockey

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:

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.

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7 years ago

Cutting football will save the school several millions right away. Have they thought about that?

Randall (Randy) Sutton
Reply to  duckyducky2
7 years ago

So true but that will never happen!

7 years ago

The Dakotas have so much money… all of the schools (I thought)…. with private donors who fund most of it. I just don’t understand. I never thought this would happen.

7 years ago

Statement from University President in Oct. 2016:
On Monday, the school’s Intercollegiate Athletic Committee (IAC) passed a recommendation to university president Mark Kennedy that they not cut any of the school’s athletics programs.
“I affirm their recommendation for continuing with our current level of support for actively sponsored programs,” Kennedy said in an email sent out to the entire campus.
“I have made it clear this is a once-in-a-Kennedy-tenure opportunity to review sports sponsorship,” Kennedy said. “It’s a closed conversation as far as I’m concerned.”

Patrick Cline
7 years ago

I suppose they didn’t have a club team practicing there? Does that continue? Is that money now gone that paid for lifeguards/lane space/meets? Are they going to close the pool? If not, those fixed costs don’t go away and what might have been in the athletic budget is going to grow the facilities budget. Bad accounting.

7 years ago

Supposedly the women’s hockey team costs 1.5 million… not sure why swimming & diving was cut too. Faison’s contract is up in a few months, maybe Kennedy (President) will reconsider?….process is/was terrible, poor communication….and there is NO WAY THE MEDIA SHOULD KNOW BEFORE THE ATHLETES. INEXCUSABLE!!!!! Even as a mid major, most of these kids had multiple options….but this late in season??? How about a $1.3 million contract with Tyr, Arena or Speedo? Great PR opportunity! WE SAVED SWIMMING!

Steve Schaffer
Reply to  SwimDad
7 years ago

The problem is, it is not a one time $1.3 million expense. Look at ND Men’s Golf for what the fundraising requirements to save their sport are.

The real issue here is that this was administrative malpractice. In the fall, when the issue had a lot of public scrutiny, the ND president said no programs would be cut. In March, with the April signing date looming and things quieted down, they cut their programs. Leaving the athletes far worse off in terms of time and options to pursue alternative programs than if they had cut the programs in the fall.

I offer my heartfelt congratulations to the swimmers and coaches for the great job they did this season.… Read more »

Bill Roberts
7 years ago

Curious to see if the President or AD are willing to take cuts to their salary? Or perhaps examine other areas of the athletic department? They are the ones who own the budgeting process…..are the ones responsible for creating the budget crisis….and ironically the ones with the ax in hand & getting to make these decisions.

Any AD or president who has to cut a sport should have to step down as well. If they cannot figure it out, find another profession. Bring in someone who can handle to job of running the program they inherited program.

Attila the Runt
7 years ago

Don’t forget, these cuts at the university and in the athletic department are in response to State budget cuts to the university because of $1.4B state deficit. The fundamental problem was the unprecedented jump (38%) in state oil/energy revenues from 2013-15 —- think “housing bubble” — that have now come back to reality. The athletic department was the beneficiary of large increases in state appropriations to the university as the bubble grew —- they bought their big, new house (to extend the metaphor) —- only to have the bubble burst. You could see this coming long ago, but it was in part drowned out by the presidential campaign rhetoric: people believed what they wanted to believe. It sucks for the… Read more »

7 years ago

The landscape of college athletics is fascinating….Struggling DI departments are cutting women’s hockey and swimming, while D-II/III are adding particularly women’s hockey and swimming in order to attract applicants. Women’s hockey popularity is exploding and how many swim programs have we seen added just this year? It is interesting to wonder where D-II/III will compare to mid major D-I in 10 years, not just in times/results but just sheer participation (D-III is largest by number already and D-II is growing).

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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