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.


  1. It is kinda scary when you think about it that way. It's the first time they've cut a program without having to.

    I wonder what the back story is here, though. I don't know any inside info, but I wonder if there was something going on where the administration was pushing for more success, and the coaches basically said "we're never going to succeed unless you give us this and this and this."

    Maybe the arms race isn't just in football and basketball...I think I'm going to explore this idea in a separate blog post.

  2. so... the message boards are saying that the Clemson AD, Terry Don Phillips was also the AD at Arkansas when they cut their men. They were consistently top 25 in the nation and had several All-Americans.

    I want to throw up.

  3. And here we swimming in it's own arms race?

  4. Hey Screaming Viking I agree and so do the swimmers at Clemson when you said, "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 got the inside scoop from a swimmer from Clemson who broke down everything for me!

  5. when i first heard the reasoning and the fact that it was a "two-year-phase out." I immediately thought,"well, they[coaches and alumni] have two years to raise the money to build a long course pool."
    Thoughts on this?

  6. I have actually been working on my thoughts on that in a new post. When Arizona State was cut, I heard a very wise person call it EXTORTION.

    I think that if they are going to cut a program and then tell them they can stick around if they come up with their own self-sufficient funding, it oughtta be the programs who have an easier time raising money. Clemson should have cut football and told them to pay their own way. Know what I am saying?

    I hope Clemson can generate the support to do that... but it doesn't change the fact that the ideals of the NCAA are not honored by cutting non-revenue sports that are doing great things academically and in their communities.

    These cuts are wrong and the NCAA needs to put a stop to the madness.

  7. The NCAA is to worried about the billions from Basketball and football to care about the other sports. The other sports are the ones they should be caring about because these kids are going pro in something that really matters.

  8. Thanks for supporting the Clemson team Viking. We really appreciate it.

    Saw this in the news this morning...I had to laugh.

    TDP in an interview in Greenville news...about football and basketball...
    “I want our program to be as good as it possibly can be,” he said. “It’s not fair to the program to not make decisions or work to improve the program. Nobody wants to step away from a program that’s struggling and not achieving at the level it’s capable of achieving."

    As in building an indoor football bball courts..etc...gag me.

  9. The Lead Editor of the Greenville news has had numerous kids that swam at a very high level year around... why is there not at least some sort of article in the greenville news? We have over 4,000 kids that swim competitively in greenville alone.

  10. Nothing has been mentioned in the newspapers out of fear of having their rights for football interviews and whatnot taken away...

    There was no real research done prior to the April 4th announcement. The school has done a lot to try and come up with credible research since the push back by alumni and supporters...

    Many have gone to them willing to work to raise funds for a new facility - only to be turned away. And in adition to women's golf, they are now considering softball! Which, if you don't know Clemson would have to build a stadium for!!