Six Swimmers File Lawsuit Against Buffalo After Program Cut

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 Millerrising 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.

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4 years ago

Good luck, I love the fight!! I am sure this is press the school doesnt want.

Bad Lawyer
4 years ago

I’m not understanding the terms of the suit- can someone clarify?
Is this for the difference in tuition/board? Travel? Etc?
I hope they win- seems like a very grey case to me, though. Could set a precedent down the line for ALL cancelled collegiate sports…

Reply to  Bad Lawyer
4 years ago

I certainly hope they win and yes it would set a precedent. The options available to these swimmers of either stay at Buffalo and end their swimming careers before they intended to, or transfer to another school where they could incur significantly more expenses had Buffalo retained their swimming program, are not choices they should be having to make. Buffalo and all universities need to realize that it isn’t just a financial issue for the school but also for the student athlete and it affects the overall collegiate experience the students may have. Perhaps in addition to swimming they are involved in other organizations on campus or in the community? They may have begun research projects working with certain professors… Read more »

Bad Lawyer
Reply to  BGNole97
4 years ago

True- I’m concerned about things such as transfers or other types of reasons an athlete may transfer. Those things are fairly common. But if an athlete goes “Hey, I feel my coach was insufficient or inappropriate to me, I would like to transfer and have you pay my extra fees as this wasn’t my initial plan” what stops them from cashing in? Scholarships are not even consistent year to year in some cases. We will see.

Reply to  Bad Lawyer
4 years ago

So swimmers and collegiate swim programs should just be thankful they get handed the crumbs of life and keep their mouths shut when a program gets cut–or they might cut more. More like wimpy lawyer.

Bad Lawyer
Reply to  Swimmon
4 years ago

Lol. I swam on a major conference team who’s on the brink of getting cut.
Just speaking in hypotheticals here- it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Wally Morton
4 years ago

Keep fighting but more importantly educating the student body, administrators , President and Trustees to the value of Men’s Swim-Dive! You can win the fight!

4 years ago

The thing that no school anticipates when they cut a swim program is that the swimming alumni, unlike a lot of other college athletes, end up becoming successful in their careers. I can’t count the number of swimmers I know who have become lawyers. Let this be a lesson to other schools if you cut a program unfairly without adequate discussion you’re gonna have a bad time.

4 years ago

Too many lawsuits. No one is forcing them to transfer. If they are keeping the scholarship, they are already being made whole. You can’t swim forever. What will happen the first time they are fired from a job?? Life sux. Some people have no food to eat. We’re supposed to feel bad for some college kids who lost a team?

Reply to  Water
4 years ago

Life does suck, but if you are not willing to fight for what u believe in, why try to anything. Even if this doesn’t workout they have brought alot of attention to it and I think anyone that learns to not take the first no will go far in life :):):)

Reply to  Water
4 years ago

its not that deep

Joe Bagodonuts Jr.
4 years ago

Frivolous is the word that comes to mind. Unless the school guaranteed them that the program would be continued at all costs during their time there, I’m not sure what the legal theory is. As with any such contract, there are risks inherent in any undertaking. Are there liquidated damage clauses in scholarship agreements? For those of you who think there is merit to the lawsuit (which seems to be the vast majority of posters here), would you also support the University rescinding the scholarship of any athlete who cannot perform their portion of the bargain – e.g. for those who become injured? In the case of an injured swimmer, the University no longer receives the benefit of the bargain… Read more »

4 years ago

Great article on a topic which will gain momentum over the next several years when MANY other programs WILL BE cut. If some of the cheap Buffalo alumni would step up to the plate and endow the program for $20,000,000 and give Dr Tripathi a $100,000 per year raise, it would not be an issue. Come on you tightwad alums put your moola where is your mouth and heart!!!

4 years ago

Chances of winning are like 1-10000

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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