UMass Dartmouth, an NCAA Division III school in Dartmouth, Massachusets, announced on Thursday that they would be cutting 8 intercollegiate athletic programs, effective immediately. The school says that the process began before COVID-19 and is “in no way related to the current health crisis.”
Included among the cut programs are men’s and women’s swimming and diving. That’s in addition to women’s equestrian, men’s golf, men’s lacrosse, sailing, and men’s and women’s tennis. The cuts will impact 94 student-athletes
“Although these changes will serve UMass Dartmouth Athletics and its student body well for years to come, I cannot begin to imagine the sense of loss our student-athletes must feel at this moment. I want them to know that this decision in no way reflects their tremendous contribution to our University,” said Chancellor Johnson. “It is because of these contributions – not just on the field – but in the classrooms, labs, and in the community that makes our student-athletes such valuable members of our community.”
The cuts will reduce the school from 12 men’s sports to 8 men’s sports, and from 13 women’s sports to 9 women’s sports. The 17 sports the school will sponsor is below the Division III average of 19.
The UMass Dartmouth women’s swimming & diving team had 15 athletes last season while the men’s team had 18 athletes. The programs also had 18 incoming recruits.
The school says that “the decision came after multiple reviews over the past decade of the UMass Dartmouth intercollegiate athletics program to formulate a long-term strategic plan that would provide the best possible competitive and co-curricular experiences for our student-athletes.” Among the criteria that the school says that it considered when deciding which programs to cut are available resources, gender equity, enrollment, full-time/part-time coaches, sports sponsorship trends, facilities, as well as strengths and weaknesses of programs.
The swimming & diving teams trained and competed in the Trip Athletic Center Natatorium, which is an indoor 6-lane pool with elevated seating and a separate diving well.
SwimSwam spoke to a member of the UMass Dartmouth swimming team, who said that all university students were notified of the changes by Chancellor Robert Johnson simultaneously via email, with impacted athletes not being notified ahead of time.
Because of the late timing of the news, July 1st, the impacted student-athletes will have to scramble if they wish to find a new college in the fall, let alone a new swimming program.
Other schools that made late decisions on cutting programs, like UConn, decided to make the cuts after this coming season, recognizing how hard it would be for student-athletes to transfer this summer. UMass Dartmouth consciously did not make that decision, however. According to an FAQ released by the school, “The Chancellor determined there was no need to prolong the decision, and the time to right-size the number of intercollegiate sports sponsored by the University was now.”
The school has said that they will not engage with any fundraising efforts to allow programs to attempt to fund programs in the short term or endow their budgets.
The school had already released its 2020-2021 swimming & diving schedule, making it one of the first schools nationally to do so.
At the 2020 New England Swimming and Diving Championships, the UMass Dartmouth women finished 6th out of 21 teams, while the UMass Dartmouth men finished 5th out of 14 teams.
Other schools that have cut swimming & diving programs this summer are:
- UConn – men
- East Carolina – men and women
- Tiffin – men and women
- Urbana – men and women (whole campus closed)
- Western Illinois – men and women (“suspended indefinitely”)