Division I University at Buffalo has announced the cutting of men’s swimming and diving, along with 3 other sports, at the end of the spring 2017 season. That makes Buffalo the second Division I team to cut a swimming program in the last week after North Dakota announced that it would no longer sponsor men’s and women’s swimming & diving.
Buffalo is also cutting men’s baseball, men’s soccer, and women’s rowing, which brings its sports sponsorship from 20 to 16 teams. Women’s swimming is unaffected.
“This has been a very difficult decision made only with extensive deliberation,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi. “The unfortunate reality is that we no longer have the resources to support 20 competitive Division I athletic teams. I know that this is a difficult day for our student-athletes, our coaches, and the entire athletics program and university. We will work very hard to provide our student-athletes and coaches who are impacted by this decision with the support they need.”
In a press release, UB says that the decision will “better align UB with its Mid-American Conference peers in terms of types and total number of sports teams sponsored by the university.” 16 is the minimum number of teams that Division I FBS schools are required to sponsor, and the MAC requires teams to support football, men’s and women’s basketball, and volleyball.
“As a former student-athlete, I empathize with how difficult this is for our impacted student-athletes. I recognize the strong sense of identity tied to the uniform and the value intercollegiate athletics provides young people.” said Athletics Director Allen Greene.
“We operate in a hypercompetitive environment and are not immune to the financial challenges facing programs at our level,” said Greene. “Regrettably, after exploring many scenarios, the reality is our current path is not sustainable and reductions reluctantly became the only option. While we continue to look for ways to mitigate rising costs, we will roll up our sleeves and enhance our efforts to better educate our community about the importance of ticket sales and philanthropy.”
The university’s review took into account program costs, facilities, Title IX, geography, and a comparison to other MAC sponsorship. The school has a record-setting crowd-funding campaign in the fall that included a focus on fund-raising for 2 of the programs cut: rowing and swimming & diving. The swimming program specifically raised $15,670 – 50% over its $10,000 goal. Those funds were earmarked to upgrade the Sanford Lounge, a student-athlete leisure area, with a Wall of Champions, a trophy case, and more seating.
All athletes are released to transfer without penalty, and signees are released from National Letters of Intent. All scholarships and NLIs will be honored for those students who wish to stay at the school.
An FAQ on the decision has been made available here.
The Mid-American Conference supports men’s swimming. 7 teams participated at last year’s MAC men’s championship, and Buffalo finished 3rd – 55.5 points behind champions Eastern Michigan.MAC foes Southern Illinois didn’t cut its men’s program earlier this year, but did reduce the number of scholarships offered by 3.9.
The Buffalo men had 23 swimmers on their 2016-2017 roster, 11 of whom have exhausted their eligibility. Among the swimmers who will be highly coveted for Transfer will be Mason Miller, who has 2 years of eligibility remaining. Last season, as a sophomore, he led the team with a 19.91 in the 50 free, 44.03 in the 100 free, and 46.66 in the 100 fly. Breaststrokers Itai de la Vega (53.61/1:58.53) and Garrett Clarke (54.23/1:57.19) also each have 1 year of eligibility remaining and will make nice additions to someone’s roster.