Monday, May 3, 2010
My Take on the Clemson Cut
When we lost UCLA and Arkansas, they pointed at Title IX. With Washington and UC Davis, it was a budget crisis. When cutting mens and womens tennis and mens cross country, indoor and outdoor track, Missouri State wasn’t even afraid to admit that they are trimming off the non-revenue sports to carry the bare minimum the NCAA allows. It was a business decision. They were re-prioritizing to reallocate funds so they could keep up with the arms race in football and basketball. That is the trend these days, whether Athletic Directors like to admit it or not.
This time we are losing Clemson; another big fish. When I step back and look at what it means for my sport, this one scares me more than any of those other cuts.
Braden at The Swimmers’ Circle made the point that it makes sense for the University to make this move. Their swimming hasn’t been as successful as they would like, and they decided recently to not build a long course pool, which is something that the teams who are successful at the national level have. Every coach has pitched for a long course facility. We all like to say that everyone else has one and that we are at a disadvantage without it… but really? Cut a program just because they don’t have one?
Oh yeah. Clemson might start women’s golf in the future too. It is being looked at. It might be a better fit. Whatever… they can rationalize it however they want.
I am sure that when Clemson’s decision makers weighed out the pro’s and con’s and looked over their spreadsheets it all made sense, but don’t the intangibles matter at least a little? Surely, those swimmers had good grades. Surely they represented the school well. By nature, with the hours that swimmers put in, is there any doubt that they put a lot of heart into the program? Does the team not have tradition and history that count for something? Their first meet was in 1919. They have had a mens team since the 40's and women since the 70's. Just more salt in the wound, I guess.
I have made the point in the past that we are at war, and the hardest part of that war is that we have to win in comparison with those who should be our closest allies in the fight: the other non-revenue sports. When schools are forced to cut, we have to make sure we have more reasons to be spared than they do. The difference this time is that Clemson wasn’t forced to cut. They just didn’t see any value in keeping us around. Swimmers, apparently, aren’t worth the money.
This decision sets a very scary precedent. Major school. No pressure from title IX. No budget crisis. Braden might be right. This was just some administrators getting together in a room and making a reasonable and rational decision that made sense for their school… but we still lost. They just didn’t see any reason to keep the swimmers around.
To me this feels as though they essentially said, “why are we bothering with this?” and dumped the program the way I might brush clutter off of my desk when I clean my office.
I have never felt that swimming was so expendable. My heart sinks with the thought of it.
Posted by The Screaming Viking! at 8:02 AM