The day after Duquesne Swimming received the bad news that their appeal to save their men’s swimming program was denied, the North Florida women’s program received some good news. According to jacksonville.com, UNF President John Delaney has given his word to head coach Beth Harrell that he would be immediately reinstating the women’s swimming program.
The North Florida women’s swimming and diving team was on the chopping block three weeks ago, despite finishing a highly successful season that included 10 school records, a conference co-coach of the year, and being named a CSCAA All-Scholar squad.
Coach Harrell believes that Title IX was likely the reason for the reversal of Athletic Director Lee Moon’s decision. Nancy Hogshead-Makar, who is a professor of Law at Florida Coastal School of Law, who is a Title IX specialist, represented the team pro bono in fighting the decision.
Apparently, the elimination of the women’s swim team left an inequitable balance in the Athletic Department, and as soon as this was brought to the attention of the administration, it was quickly ratified. For his part, all indications have been that Delaney, Moon, and the UNF administration have been very cooperative throughout the process.
“It was a good faith, honest mistake,” Hogshead-Makar said. “When we told them they were proportionally out-of-whack, they were very focused on changing things back.”
On Thursday afternoon, Moon met with the team, and pledged to them that besides the reinstatement, that the team would receive additional financial support, including renovations to the on-campus pool and the team’s locker room facilities. It is not yet clear where this additional funding will come from, as financial restraints were the original reason for the team being cut, but hopefully it will not be at the expense of another program.
When the announcement was made, at least one athlete was out of state visiting a potential transfer school. “We’re all ecstatic,” Harrell said. “One of our athletes was on a recruiting trip in Nebraska when we heard the news. But she doesn’t have to leave. None of us have to leave now.”
After a season that seems to have been filled with the death of many swimming programs, it’s great to see one actually saved by Title IX.