Saint Leo University (NCAA D2) Announces Cut of Swimming, Track, & Cross Country Teams

St. Leo University in St. Leo, Florida has announced that it will discontinue its men’s and women’s swimming teams, men’s and women’s track teams, and men’s and women’s cross country teams at the end of the Spring 2023 semester. The school is an NCAA Division II institution.

According to the school, ‘this decision was made to help ensure the strength and long-term vitality of the university’s Athletics program and is a part of Saint Leo University’s larger efforts to streamline and focus its program offerings.’

“For the past two decades, the university has provided a championship experience for our sports,” said Fran Reidy, vice president and director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “As evidenced by our Mayor’s Cup trophies, Learfield Cup finishes, and NCAA appearances, Saint Leo has provided a broad-based athletic program. However, we cannot provide the necessary support to all our current programs. The university is committed to providing a great student-athlete experience for our student-athletes, but will need to do so with a smaller number of teams.”

The school made the announcement days after the swimming teams finished competition at the 2023 Sunshine State Conference Championships. There, Saint Leo’s men placed 6th out of 7 teams, seven points better than Lynn, and the women finished 7th out of 7 teams, three points behind Florida Tech.

Michael Southward was hired to lead the St. Leo’s swimming & diving team in fall of 2021 shortly after completing a four-year career as a member of the team. He was a school record breaker and team captain for the Lions.

The move will impact 72 student-athletes and four staff members.

St. Leo University is a private Roman Catholic-affiliated college founded in 1889. Government statistics show a current enrollment of 5,155, about 62% of which are female. In spite of that, about 52% of the school’s student-athletes are male.

Of the roster spots being lost (noting the overlap between cross country and track & field), 42 are female and 45 are male. That includes 15 male swimmers and 14 female swimmers.

The track & field teams (which overlap with cross country) are in the midst of their spring outdoor season, which concludes in May with the NCAA Championships. The school’s primary conference, the Sunshine State Conference, does not sponsor track & field.

In 2023-2024 academic year, Saint Leo University will be home to the following 14 NCAA DII teams that compete in the Sunshine State Conference. These will include beach volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, and volleyball. The university also sponsors a 15th sport, acrobatics and tumbling, which competes in the National Acrobatics and Tumbling Association.


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7 months ago

Sad to see another D2 program going away. Between the programs changing to D1 and the cuts D2 is starting to look a little thin. Hopefully some more programs add… I am looking at you NSIC schools at least for the men.

7 months ago

i wonder what level of assistance swimmers will get, should they choose to transfer. i imagine moving to another D2 school is not as easy as a D1, but I just don’t know. ????

7 months ago

What do you mean “not as easy”? The rules state they can enter the portal immediately and seek a transfer if their program is cut without penalty of further eligibility. Now if “not as easy” means “there’s not much money left for next season”, then that’s a fair question, but that probably works for D1 as well at a similar rate.

7 months ago

Cancel culture

7 months ago

In the end, more small Florida schools should be NCAA Division III members rather than Division II. Bigger roster sizes can help create a reason for schools to support sports like swimming (tuition revenue is important). That means that recruiting both fast swimmers and lots of swimmers becomes an institutional goal. Florida has lots of high school swimmers. Saint Leo has nice swimming facilities and a nice campus setting. No way should they be cutting swimming. Coaches at schools like theirs must prioritize recruiting so that their Admissions Department sees value in their University supporting our sport!

7 months ago

Best Example of how one president can change the Trajectory of an entire university. Shame on Saint Leo, this is a budget cut

7 months ago

This seems to have been a financial decision as the school also eliminated many none athletic programs and campuses. Think the article said 8 campuses and 111 staff positions.

7 months ago

Team knew of decision PRIOR to conference meet not after please check on that. Impacted performance at meet

Reply to  Swimobserver
7 months ago

The article I read was from the 16th, not sure when the swimmers found out.

St. Leo swim dad
Reply to  Dan
7 months ago

Swimmers knew that 6 programs where going to be cut on the 16th which was posted on the schools website right before the first day of Finals at their conference meet, not knowing which programs until Monday morning they found out It was swim, xc and track

7 months ago

Not good

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Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of 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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