W&M Students Speak To Board, School To Investigate “Division I Competitiveness”

After the announcement that seven sports were being cut at the end of the season back on September 3, including men’s and women’s swimming & diving, the William & Mary community has been working towards getting the programs reinstated.

Following both the news that athletics director Samantha Huge plagiarized the announcement of the sports being cut and that the women’s programs on the chopping block alleged a Title IX violation against the school, the Board of Visitors held a listening period last week where the community had up to two minutes to speak directly to the Board.

The session lasted over two hours, giving current swimmers the chance to let the Board know the effects of the decision on the team, along with presenting the facts on why the decision was wrong. The Board was reportedly upset after the session concluded with how the entire situation had been handled.

On Friday night, both President Katherine A. Rowe and Rector John E. Littel released statements indicating that they would be taking the next month to revisit the true meaning of “Division I competitiveness” and how it was applied as a reason to cut the programs.

“We need to dig more deeply into the assumptions made in that plan about competitiveness and what that means in a Division I context for the community now,” said Rowe. “We need to do that to ensure a shared understanding of what we mean by competitive excellence in intercollegiate athletics.

“We need to be open about the deep disagreements that we have about that and finish this conversation by listening to all of the voices in our community – students, alumni, faculty and staff – recognizing that our starting place is Division I.”

In terms of the campaign launched to save the swimming & diving programs, “Save Tribe Swimming”, alumnus Jaimie Miller says that they are “still actively looking for large donors who have made an impact at W&M in the past to get involved”.

To date, $1,085,207.13 has been raised, having surpassed the $1 million mark on September 18. The group’s stated goal at the September 7 launch was $4.5 million, an amount that the group estimated would fully cover the annual operating cost of the program, along with the existing $3 million endowment.

In a document released by the school, it’s indicated that in order to bring back the seven sports that were cut, an endowment of almost $150 million would be required. This includes a series of scholarships for each program, introducing two additional sports (softball and rowing) and adding several “associated support positions”.

Men’s swimming & diving does not offer scholarships, and the only women’s scholarship is being phased out at the end of the year, according to Miller.

“We have never had that sort of scholarship budget,” she said. “My assumption is that the administration released these numbers at such incredibly lofty points to discourage teams from trying to achieve self funding.

“One of the reasons our administration is arguing in favor of the cuts is surrounding the ‘Division I experience’, which in their mind needs to include numerous scholarships, and buckets of money to support fancy facilities and other miscellaneous costs that our current budget does not support (and is in no way needed to justify a winning program such as W&M men’s and women’s swimming).”

Softball and rowing are included in the list because, if the school were to reintroduce the seven sports that are being cut, they’re indicating they would need two more women’s teams to be Title IX compliant, Miller says. Of course, the letter sent last week to the President alleges that with the current cuts the school would not be Title IX compliant anyway.

The document says the men’s and women’s swimming & diving programs have a combined operating cost, including scholarships and salaries, of $1.96 million, while in reality the estimate is closer to $450,000.

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8 months ago

I’d say that projecting 22nd place at men’s NCAAs is pretty “Competitive” in Division 1. Seeded ahead of 13 power Five schools South Carolina, Penn State, Purdue, Stanford, Auburn, Kentucky, USC, Pitt, Georgia Tech, WVU, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and UNC.

I’d say that consistently being one of the top two teams in your conference on the women’s side with conference champions every year is pretty “Competitive” in Division 1.

I think I’d like to see a breakdown of that $1.96m. Surely anyone who knows a lick about college swimming knows that a mid-major combined team without scholarships cannot cost that much.

Frank Probst
Reply to  thezwimmer
8 months ago

The numbers are absurd. They certainly don’t represent an honest assessment of what’s really needed (or being spent now). And if you need anything else to convince you that the Athletic Department isn’t being honest, the plagiarism will do it. Most people will look at the numbers and have no idea if they’re accurate or not. But you can read W&M’s Open Letter from the President, the Provost, and the Athletic Director–none of whom have issued a retraction of this document, nor even asked to have their name removed from it–look at the Stanford document, and see the plagiarism. I was going to say “apparent similarities”, but it’s more accurate to say that multiple passages are copied word-for-word.

Reply to  thezwimmer
8 months ago

Here’s a breakdown of the program’s actual operating costs: about $450,000 a year.


VA Steve
Reply to  thezwimmer
8 months ago

Seems to be a pretty good ROI, especially compared with football.

Reply to  VA Steve
8 months ago

But realistically, no school will cut football, unless there’s some terrible scandal or they’re losing absurd amounts of money. It’s all PR. They keep the football team so they can say “football made x amount of dollars this year. They’re supporting our athletic department.”

Reply to  Thezwimmer
8 months ago

Florida Tech cut their football team this year. Jacksonville University cut football in 2019.

In the 2000s, there was a run on D1 schools cutting football, including Hofstra, Northeastern, Iona, La Salle (who just cut men’s swimming), Saint Peter’s, Siena, Canisius, Fairfield, St. John’s. Boston University cut in 1997.

It definitely happens, though of course it’s less rare.

UAB cut their program for 2 years, but then brought it back.

Captain Ahab
8 months ago

In the words of Hank Schrader to Walter White “You are the smartest guy I haver met, but you are too stupid see, he made up his mind 10 minutes ago”…William and Mary swimmers should train together for the remainder and try to transfer to UVA or somewhere help them win an ACC championship.

8 months ago

Samantha Huge should be ashamed of herself, the only person deserving to be cut is her

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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