UCSD, in its third year of a four year transition from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I athletics, has eliminated the diving portion of its swimming & diving program.
The program had only two divers on their roster last year, one male and one female, and both were seniors. The female, Isabella Perez, dove exhibition at the MPSF Championships. Kyle Parenti scored 31 points for the men’s team, including 7th place finishes in both springboard events.
In a statement, the school cited a number of factors for the decision, including that the Big West Conference does not sponsor swimming & diving.
“A number of factors have led to a department decision to redirect resources within the swimming program to provide a first-class scholar-athlete experience, encourage conference and NCAA team and individual competitive success and enhance potential international competitive opportunities (i.e. national and world championships, Olympic Games, etc.). In addition, the department is committed to scholar-athlete safety and well-being as well as maintaining its high academic standing.
“Considering the complexities of maintaining a competitive diving program in the face of a national trend that shows a decline in qualified coaches and youth participants, the decision was made to place a dedicated emphasis on enhancing the Triton swimming programs and to phase out diving events.”
UC San Diego has a proud tradition of success as a member of NCAA Divisions III and II in both swimming and diving. The program has produced DII and DIII All-Americans and claimed numerous conference and national championships. However, the Division I landscape is vastly different and the resources required to maintain a nationally competitive diving program are extensive.
The school says that it is “reallocating resources directed to its highly successful swimming program in a manner that best provides a first class scholar-athlete experience and opportunity for team and individual competitive success.”
“A great deal of thought and analysis has been given to exactly how to achieve that. The decision was made to focus funding, resources, scholarships, coaching and facilities to the area of the program that has the best possible opportunity for success – swimming. We believe we can be nationally elite, win championships and bring prestige and distinction to UC San Diego in the sport of swimming on the Division I level and in international competition.”
SwimSwam asked for specific examples of where that funding was being redirected to, but as of publishing did not receive a response.
UCSD’s head diving coach Abigail Smith served in her role for 2 seasons. While Smith’s salary is not available in the UC public payroll systems, prior individuals in her role have earned about $20,000 per year.
The UCSD women finished 2nd out of 10 teams at last season’s MPSF Championship meet, while the men finished 5th out of 7 teams, just 13 points behind conference newcomers Incarnate Word for 4th.
At the MPSF Championships, each team is limited to travelling a maximum of 22 student-athletes, with an official roster of 18 must be declared at the coaches’ meeting. Swimmers count as one and divers count as 1/2 of a roster spot.
Among MPSF teams, UCSB (men and women) and Pacific (women only) also don’t have diving programs.
In 2016, UCSD students voted overwhelmingly (almost 70%) to increase student fees from $129 per quarter to $290 per quarter to fund a move to NCAA Division I athletics. That increase resulted in around $10 million in new revenue annually for the athletics department.