Imagine spending about 6,000 hours of your childhood in a pool, training 48 weeks a year to become one thing: an NCAA swimmer. After countless swim meets and year-round sacrifices, imagine that you’re recruited to be a student-athlete – only to have that title ripped from you because the college has mismanaged its athletics program.
After an 82 percent funding decrease and four years of sweeping its fiscal problems under the rug, UNC-Wilmington’s Intercollegiate Athletic Review Committee moved Wednesday to recommend that the university eliminate swimming and diving as well as four other programs.
UNC-Wilmington student-athletes realize that sacrifices must be made for our school to attain financial stability, but we can’t figure out why the school would ignore these problems for years, only to drop the ax – without warning – on students who have devoted their lives to swimming and other sports and, now, to the university.
My fellow swimmers and I wonder why UNC-Wilmington is choosing to eliminate some programs while sparing others from budget cuts.
While unlucky sports like swimming and diving head for the chopping block, the men’s basketball team will escape unscathed. The university – while hiding its four-year shortfall – recently spent $2 million to renovate Trask Coliseum, home of the basketball programs.
This disparity becomes even starker when you compare the university’s spending habits for each sport. UNC-Wilmington spends an average of $120,848 each year per men’s basketball player, $18,966 per baseball player and just $9,490 for each swimmer.
University officials would claim that “flagship” sports like basketball make money to keep the entire athletics program afloat, but in times like these, why can’t every program take a cut so we can keep them all running? We student-athletes have devoted our childhoods to be part of a collegiate sport, and our sports should be treated equally.
The recommendations made by the IARC were based on 15 criteria, including history of competitive success, community service engagement and academic performance. Revenue was the only requirement not met by the swimming and diving team.
Imagine representing your university with great pride, only to be told that the school is no longer committed to you because your efforts do not make enough money.
The men’s swimming team is dedicated to success both inside and out of the pool. We have a cumulative grade point average of 3.06, and we have won the Colonial Athletic Association Championship 12 years in a row. Similarly, the women’s team consistently competes at the top of its conference and maintains a grade point average of 3.09.
We also perform regular community service, conducting swim schools for Wilmington-area children.
Most of us chose UNC-Wilmington over other schools because we believed in the university’s commitment to our sport. UNC-Wilmington claims to be committed to the best interests of student-athletes. We only ask that the university retain this commitment to all student-athletes, not just those who generate revenue.
Daniel Dozier of Raleigh is a rising sophomore at UNC-Wilmington and a member of the men’s swimming and diving team.