Southern Illinois University to Reduce Men’s Swimming Scholarships

In what it’s calling a cost-cutting move, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois has announced that it will cut the number of men’s swimming scholarships it offers by 3.9 per year, leaving them with 6 scholarships (out of a maximum of 9.9).

The move comes in addition to cutting the men’s and women’s tennis altogether.

The measures will take effect on July 1, 2017, and the school estimates that it will save $660,000 annually by reducing scholarship costs, salaries, team budgets, travel, and facility rental fees. A total of 16.4 scholarship are being cut – 4.5 in men’s tennis, 8 in women’s tennis, and the 3.9 in men’s swimming.

Student-athletes who choose to remain at Southern Illinois will retain their financial aid packages until graduation, or the student-athletes can choose to transfer, without penalty, at the end of the school year.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision because of the impact it will have on the lives of our student-athletes and staff,” said Director of Athletics Tommy Bell. “These student-athletes have been great ambassadors for our University, excelling both in competition and in the classroom.”

The announcement comes in addition to more than $1 million in cuts made last year, leaving the school with a $21 million operating budget.

Most of the school’s athletics teams compete in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), but that conference doesn’t sponsor men’s swimming. The Southern Illinois men’s swim team finished 4th out of 7 teams at last year’s MAC Championships.

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University announced today that Intercollegiate Athletics will implement additional cost-cutting measures that include the elimination of two sports (men’s and women’s tennis) and the reduction of scholarships in men’s swimming & diving.

These measures will take effect on July 1, 2017. Athletics expects to save approximately $660,000 annually in scholarship costs, salaries, team budgets, travel and facility rental fees, when all of the cutbacks are fully realized.

The cuts will reduce Athletics’ total scholarship outlay by 16.4, eliminating 4.5 scholarships in men’s tennis, 8.0 in women’s tennis, and 3.9 scholarships in men’s swimming & diving. The department will continue to honor the financial aid of all student-athletes affected by the decision until they graduate. These student-athletes are also permitted by NCAA rules to transfer to another institution without penalty at the end of this school year.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision because of the impact it will have on the lives of our student-athletes and staff,” said Director of Athletics Tommy Bell. “These student-athletes have been great ambassadors for our University, excelling both in competition and in the classroom.”

Bell said Athletics currently has a $21 million operating budget. That figure reflects more than $1 million in cuts made last year, achieved by reductions in sport budgets and support staff, and consolidation of positions. Additional cuts were needed, he said, due to ongoing declines in revenue from student fees, ticket sales as well as budget forecasts indicating reduced future revenue.

“We have spent the past 18 months cutting costs and streamlining the way we do business in Athletics, in the hopes we could avoid eliminating sports,” Bell said. “In light of the severe budget environment, we simply ran out of options. As budgets are cut across campus, Athletics must do its part.”

The reduction plan was approved by SIU Interim Chancellor Bradley Colwell, System President Randy Dunn, and the IAAC (Intercollegiate Athletic Advisory Committee).

“I deeply empathize with the human toll this decision creates,” Colwell said. “I’ve met members of these teams and found them to be among the best and brightest at SIU. Nevertheless, I concur with AD Tommy Bell that this outcome was necessary. In fact, I believe it helps position Athletics to thrive going forward.”

The men’s tennis program at SIU began in 1924 under head coach William McAndrew. The program has won 789 matches all-time and 18 conference championships, most recently in 2016. Men’s tennis also won a NCAA Small College national championship in 1964. The women’s tennis program began in 1975 under head coach Judy Auld. Current head coach Audra Anderson is just the fourth head coach in program history. Women’s tennis has won 569 matches all-time, including two conference championships. Each team has been recognized by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) as an All-Academic Team in eight out of the last 10 years by earning a cumulative team GPA of 3.2 or higher.


FAQs on Sport Program Reductions at Southern Illinois University

Q: Which sports are being eliminated or reduced?
A: Men’s and Women’s Tennis will be eliminated on June 30, 2017 for a reduction of 12.5 scholarships (4.5 men and 8.0 women). At the same time, Men’s Swimming & Diving will be reduced by 3.9 scholarships (to six).

Q: Why is this being done?
A: We are making this decision due to ongoing declines in revenue from student fees and ticket sales, as well as budget forecasts indicating reduced future revenue.

Q: Why were the tennis programs chosen for elimination?
A: We conducted a cost-benefit analysis on all 18 of our intercollegiate sports programs, and considered the potential impact such a decision would have upon our student-athletes, the University, the community, our alumni and supporters. Factors considered include conference affiliations, status of facilities and shared expenses.

Q: Will this decision have any impact on SIU’s affiliation with the Missouri Valley Conference, the MVFC or NCAA?
A: No. We will offer 16 intercollegiate sports moving forward.

Q: Why not make cuts elsewhere in the budget rather than cutting sports?
A: Athletics has operated under the same cost-reduction guidelines as the rest of campus. In FY16, Athletics reduced its budget by $1 million. This was accomplished through operating budget reductions and consolidation of staff. As budgets are cut across campus, Athletics must do its part.

Q: Will you honor the scholarships for current tennis student-athletes?
A: Yes. For those who remain in good academic standing at SIU, they will retain their financial aid until they graduate.

Q: Can student-athletes transfer to other programs?
A: Yes. When an NCAA sport is discontinued, students-athletes are immediately eligible for competition at another institution. All student-athletes with remaining eligibility are permitted to commit to another institution during the spring signing period.

Q: What is the anticipated cost savings of eliminating the tennis programs?
A: When fully implemented, Athletics expects to save $560,000 annually from eliminating men’s and women’s tennis. Savings will come from scholarships, salaries, team budgets, travel, and facility rental (SIU currently rents SportsBlast for indoor practice and competition.)

Q: How long will it take to realize those savings?
A: Some savings will be immediate, such as sport budgets and travel. Savings from scholarships will depend upon how many student-athletes with remaining eligibility choose to complete their academic careers at SIU. Presently, the men’s tennis program has four juniors on scholarship, and the women’s tennis program has four juniors and one sophomore.

Q: Was Title IX factored into this decision?
A: Yes. Athletics hired a Title IX consultant to conduct a thorough assessment of SIU’s compliance status. Athletics is committed to providing participation opportunities for male and female students in numbers proportionate to their respective enrollments, by imposing roster management limits.

Q: Why make this decision now?
A: We arrived at this decision after a 12-month process that involved a thorough budget impact analysis and Title IX review. The decision involved consultation with the Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Committee (IAAC) and the approval of SIU Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell and System President Randy Dunn.

Q: Was this decision a response to the Non-Instructional Program Review Committee recommendations to reduce sports and funding for scholarships?
A: This decision was reached parallel to the discussion of the committee and does address some of the committee’s recommendations.


Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Committee (IAAC) Statement
On January 12, 2017, the Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Committee (IAAC) voted by a majority to support the Athletic Department’s decision to reduce sport offerings on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus beginning in the 2017-2018 school year in response to the ongoing budget crisis on the SIU campus and in the state of Illinois. After reviewing the Athletic Department’s financial position and confirming that all other options for cost reduction have been exhausted, the IAAC reluctantly agreed that sport elimination was the only responsible course of action. Declines in state appropriations, student enrollment and ticket revenue, as well as numerous other factors during the last five years have dramatically altered the financial landscape for Athletics, and this decision, although not a panacea, reflects a prudent response to these ongoing challenges.

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7 years ago

This might have more to do with the state of Illinois not able to pass a budget, they haven’t had one for two years!!! Moody’s has downgraded SIU to the lowest rating possible. They have to figure out in Illinois what they are doing, or it won’t just be SIU dealing with unpleasant situations. Read more here:

wet book
7 years ago

Saving money is their concern, eh? And how much does their 1-AA football program lose every year?

7 years ago

What happens when the damn breaks? Quick look on the athletic website and I saw over 70 million dollars worth of new building/improvements in the athletic department since 2010. Over estimating the impact? Under estimating the support? A little bit of both? The reality in all college sports is that it is an arms race. If West University Tech is doing “this” then East Central A&M needs to do “this” and “that”. It doesn’t matter if it is mid-major, power 5, Division II. At some point the damn is going to break and non-revenue sports are the first to get wiped out by the wave. Put your program in a position where it can’t be cut. Title IX helps women’s… Read more »

7 years ago

At least the Men’s program is still alive. Losing scholarships hurt, no question. There are other Mid-majors operating with less than full allocation of scholarships. The kids still get to compete.

7 years ago

Let’s build a wall around NCAA swimming. No more international swimmers. What a ridiculous argument! International swimmers are among best and often the best in their programs. They are not “imported” because colleges love to spend money on them, but because they are more talented than USA swimmers available to them. What times get tough, narrow – minded people turn to nationalism. Legacy of 3 decades of destroying education in this country.

7 years ago

Below are portions of comments that I left in another thread the other day.

Everybody “thumbs down” them. Unfortunately the truth is college swimming is doomed. This announcement is the tip of the iceburg. There are articles out there on “recruiting costs per win” for college football. Look them up. I think average “recruiting cost per win” is around 60K. Tenessee spends over 120,000 per “win” in recruiting costs. Thats not scholarship cost, that is RECRUITING COST. Cost to get the football players to commit to a college.

College enrollment and application are down as a whole and tenured profs are not going to give up anything so something has to give. Costs are way out of line. The… Read more »

Reply to  buckeye499
7 years ago

Although I do not want college swimming to get cut anywhere. Nick Saban EARNS his 7 million per year. Also, In my 5 years at a division 1 SEC school where I swam. (no not Alabamana) We flew to 1 dual meet the entire time. You don’t fly to every meet for 400$

Reply to  buckeye499
7 years ago

This is an interesting opinion, but the facts don’t really give it much credence. There have been more teams added than cut in the last few years. A team that has little or no scholarships actually produced profit for a university theough donations and student fees of the athletes on the team. We need to be aware of the risk that more olympic sport programs could be cut, but these fears seem a bit overblown based on the evidence.

7 years ago

Sad for the kids and that we are many years away from rectifying this travesty.

7 years ago

I can’t believe I’m reading this article. This is the school that gave me a chance to swim in college. I am not an alumni since I didn’t finish my schooling there, but I am willing to speak out or help out anyway possible. About to go email Rick right now.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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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