Originally published Dec 16, 2020, Updated December 17 with new statements from president Caslen
In a story reported by the Charlotte Observer yesterday, University of South Carolina school president Bob Caslen said a budget deficit might result in the school cutting the men’s and women’s swimming & diving programs, among other sports.
South Carolina’s athletic department is facing a $40 million-plus deficit and is expected to take on loans to get through this fiscal year. Caslen said that a trustee meeting on Tuesday included “discussions about eliminating sports,” with men’s and women’s swimming and diving mentioned, as well as men’s soccer and equestrian.
Caslen has expressed his hopes to avoid any program cuts.
“If we can preserve those teams, my desire is because of the goodness they provide our student-athletes we would like to do that. There are unintended consequences like cutting pathways to professional or Olympic sports,” Caslen said.
“I believe [not cutting is] the right thing to do. In the end, we may have to do it.”
A day after his original comments, Caslen attempted to walk back any concerns over the future of the mentioned programs.
“I want to reiterate that the goal of Athletics Director Ray Tanner and myself remains to preserve the robust athletics program we enjoy at the University of South Carolina. Student athletes set a tremendous example for our entire university community and the administration is working hard to ensure each of our teams is supported, even as we face serious challenges. Our student-athletes and fans deserve nothing less. There are no plans to cut any sports programs at Carolina.”
If South Carolina ends up cutting the swimming & diving programs, they’d join a growing number of schools that have eliminated sports to make up for revenue losses at the hands of the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, other Division I programs to cut swimming & diving include Iowa (men and women), Michigan State (men and women), Boise State (women), UConn (men), Dartmouth (men and women), East Carolina (men and women), Western Illinois (men and women)
The Gamecock athletic department would also be the third DI institution in the state of South Carolina to axe swimming & diving programs in the last decade after Clemson cut their swimming and men’s diving teams after the 2010-11 season and the College of Charleston cut their programs in 2015. Clemson made it final by eliminating women’s diving after the 2016-17 season.
Last season, South Carolina’s women finished ninth out of 12 teams and their men were last at the 2020 SEC Championships. They weren’t without bright spots, though, as Itay Goldfaden won the 100 breast conference title and the Gamecock women had several A-finalists at the meet.