Western Illinois Suspends Swimming & Diving Programs Amid Coaching Search

Western Illinois University has suspended it’s men’s and women’s swimming & diving programs effective immediately, citing budgetary and COVID-19-related issues.

“The decision to suspend was due to challenges related to COVID-19, which impacted the search for a head coach, recruitment, and the department’s budget,” the school wrote in a press release today.

WIU went through two head coaches in a single season last year and remains without a head coach on the official roster. The school terminated Greg Naumann in September. (The school originally refused to comment on Naumann’s departure, but SwimSwam’s request for public records showed Naumann was terminated for “a lack of control and responsibility to ensure the principle of student-athlete well-being”). Then WIU informed the team in February that his replacement, Scott Johannsen, was no longer leading the program less than a month before the team’s conference championship meets.

Illinois public records show that Naumann made $39,350 in 2017 as the program’s head coach, making it one of the lowest-paying head coaching jobs in Division I swimming.

WIU says it will honor scholarships for student-athletes who choose to stay at Western Illinois. A source close to the program says the team was only funded for about 3 men’s scholarships and 3.5 women’s scholarships.

The program will be suspended and “the decision will be re-evaluated within the next year,” according to the school’s press release. The school now sponsors 17 varsity sports: 8 for men and 9 for women.

Western Illinois previously competed in the Summit League, which is now left with just five men’s and five women’s programs: Denver (W/M), South Dakota (W/M), South Dakota State (W/M), Eastern Illinois (W/M), Omaha (W) and Valparaiso (M).

WIU’s program suspension is the next in a string of schools cutting or suspending swimming this offseason. East Carolina cut four athletic programs last month, including swimming & diving. Connecticut just officially announced yesterday that they would be cutting four programs, including men’s swimming & diving.

27
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
27 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
coach
1 year ago

I feel so awful for the swimmers. This is not their fault, and this is just terrible news.

Theswammer
1 year ago

This is expected when you pay the head coach like a mid-major assistant. They’ve inadvertently been trying to get rid of this program for years now.

Sad day for the swim community to lose another program.

Coachy
Reply to  Theswammer
1 year ago

Mid-major Asst? That’s how much many Power 5 assistants are paid.

Guerra
1 year ago

I hate hearing this news. It’s just really sad and I’m afraid there’s more to come. Coaches need to do a good job with their athletes and the athletes need to make sure they really represent the program, the school and the support in a positive light. Administrators are looking for any reason to cut programs, especially at the DI mid-majors.

Damion Dennis
1 year ago

Had no problem hiring the softball coach a few days ago.

Admin
Reply to  Damion Dennis
1 year ago

Softball coach makes $50,000/year. Not great by D1 standards, but still substantially better than the swim coach.

Honestly I think WIU should consider a move to D2. I’m not sure what benefits they think they’re getting by staying in D1.

Changes
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Completely agree. Mid majors olympic sports are getting crushed with football budgets trying to compete with power 5.

Guerra
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

I’m beginning to think there are going to be more opportunities for swimmers (elite and non-elite) at the DIII level in the near future. The facilities and infrastructure aren’t as good as DI, but the coaching is starting to catch up and there are numerous opportunities for grants. I went to the D3 nationals a several years ago and thought it was outstanding.

Swimgeek
Reply to  Guerra
1 year ago

I agree the swimming is great – but the problem with d3 is that almost all Schools are private. So the price tag is $70k per year instead of $30k per year. I know there are various need based packages but those aren’t applicable to everyone. So if you have a non-scholarship kid (I.e., most of us) then losing state school options is really rough.

SWIMFAN5
Reply to  Swimgeek
1 year ago

Many private D3 schools offer merit scholarships that make tuition affordable and in many cases comparable to public D3’s. Plus, in researching many D3 private schools I’ve found the many of the merit scholarships do not set the bar very high and are easily accessible to students with a 3.0 or higher.

Anonymous
Reply to  SWIMFAN5
1 year ago

In our journey looking at schools, I don’t think it’s well publicized that DIII @ 70k a year can become affordable. One of the big factors was my swimmer didn’t want to go to a college that was smaller than the current high school. What diversity in education do you get with such a small staff? Yes, you get personalized attention, but very few faculty to draw from.

Guerra
Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

A friend of mine has a son (Jr National level) that went to a really nice DIII school that cost $70,000.00/Yr and, after everything was said and done with, is only paying $6,000.00/yr. They only considered DI at first, but now they couldn’t be happier with both the academics and swimming.

Anonymous
Reply to  Guerra
1 year ago

We’ve been very happy with our daughter swimming DIII in the WIAC. All affordable state schools within the UW system. Great athletics – great college experience – decent size campuses. Overall a really good experience for her.

Buckeye Dad
Reply to  SWIMFAN5
1 year ago

For example , Denison (D3) who has a few National titles has a 50 M pool that seats 1200 And $800M endowment. We paid slightly more than a state school . The D2 option were never considered because their academics are by in large as not as strong. Denison is a Top 50 ranked liberal
Arts School

NM Coach
Reply to  Guerra
1 year ago

Guerra – Agreed…but we have also seen an uptick in adding D2 and NAIA programs as well.

DrSwimPhil
Reply to  Guerra
1 year ago

“The coaching is starting to catch up”

BS. It’s been there for a while. And in D2, as well, for quite a while. It’s just under the radar since neither division gets the media play.

Damion Dennis
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

My issue is that they are saying COVID played into this as part of their decision & their ability to hire a head coach. Softball job was open at/about the same general time, during this pandemic & that position was filled.

Sadly this has been in the works for months, maybe a few years. I hope they bring it back.

Ole 99
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Its debatable whether WIU or EIU will exist in ten years.

Working Swim Mom
Reply to  Ole 99
1 year ago

This is a true statement. Enrollment down and fighting to stay financially viable. For WIU trying to support two campuses is likely too big a burden.

SwimT
1 year ago

Ahhh they finally said something, the job had been posted for 3+ months, sad to see, hopefully it comes back within a year but who knows…

exswimcoach
1 year ago

It often seems that comments on SwimSwam neglect to mention NCAA II as options. A great mix of public and private schools and NCAA II’s are every bit as fast and exciting as NCAA III’s! Great coaches at the D2 level.

I_Said_It
Reply to  exswimcoach
1 year ago

I’m guessing the rational is that with D3, athletic aid is not a factor in departments annual expenses. The NAIA is one of the few ares of collegiate swimming that’s growing.

Anonymous
1 year ago

Just three weeks ago the team was told that the calendar was full of third round interviews and first round phone calls. Covid is an excuse to cover up the AD wanting to get rid of the program.

Jason Bryant
1 year ago

What I can’t stand is how these schools make decisions that not only impact their student-athletes, but when they then put other schools’ programs at risk because they drop programs that put conference sponsorship at risk.

It’s short-sighted, selfish, irresponsible and reckless.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »