Six swimmers at the University of Buffalo have filed suit against the school for transfer expenses created by the school’s decision to cut its swimming & diving programs.
Rising juniors Zach Towers and Mason Miller, rising sophomores Joey Puglessi and Luke Gordon and incoming freshmen Carson Burt and Trey Lowe are being represented by Buffalo diving alumnus Richard Lydecker, who is now a lawyer. Lydecker and his firm, Lydecker Dias, are representing the six swimmers pro bono, according to Buffalo’s school newspaper, The Spectrum.
Lydecker filed suit on behalf of the swimmers on Tuesday, demanding payment from the university to account for expenses the swimmers say they’ll incur if they have to transfer to another program to swim.
Buffalo abruptly cut its mens swimming & diving program last month, citing financial reasons. Athletes are released to transfer to other schools to swim without penalty, and the school said it would honor scholarships for athletes who remain at Buffalo even after the program is ended. But the swimmers involved in the suit say the situation could still cost them large sums of money.
Towers told The Spectrum that Buffalo’s late announcement of the program cuts meant that most potential transfer destinations had already given out most of their athletic and academic scholarships for next year. He estimates he’ll have to pay between $40,000 and $60,000 more to swim at a new school than he would have at Buffalo over the next three years.
“The fact that UB’s hiding behind the idea that we can keep our scholarship if we stop swimming here, that really isn’t fair to us,” Towers said in the Spectrum story. “By saying you can stay here, quit swimming and keep your scholarship, we’re losing everything else so that’s really not fair to us.”
The Spectrum profiles several of the athletes involved in the suit, including Burt, an incoming freshman who says he’s had to change his commitment to Ohio State, costing $15,000 more a year than his expected cost at Buffalo. Burt told The Spectrum he found out the program was cut while competing at a meet.
Buffalo swimmers haven’t taken the news of their program’s cut status quietly. The team held a sit-in at the university president’s office this week, eventually meeting with Buffalo President Satish Tripathi. Swimmers say Tripathi agreed to meet with program alumni to discuss options to save the program. Lydecker told The Buffalo News that they hope to convince Tripathi to delay the program’s elimination for two years, buying time to develop a fundraising program to keep the swim team around or to give the swimmers more time to either finish out their careers or find suitable transfer destinations.
Previously, Lydecker had also written a public letter criticizing Tripathi’s handling of the situation and demanding that the university return his $15,000 donation that he says was accepted by the school while the school was “actively considering the termination” of the swimming program without making that information known.