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.