UPDATE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2011: Eight sports were recommended for elimination in a report released Monday night. All three men’s track teams, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, women’s water polo and aerobics and tumbling (formerly known as competitive cheer) were included in the proposal formulated by the President’s Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics to address the athletic department’s significant deficit.
COLLEGE PARK– University of Maryland sophomore swimmer Anderson Sloan transferred from Clemson earlier this year. Clemson cut its swim team last year. “The swim team here, to me, talking to some of the captains, and to Coach Sean Schimmel; he made it sound like this team had a lot of room to grow and was only going up,” he said. For the second year in a row, his athletic future is uncertain.
Members of the University of Maryland’s swimming and diving team said that Athletic Director Kevin Anderson told them their sport would be cut from the athletic department if University President Wallace Loh approves a budget proposal that will reduce the size of the department. The team members said Anderson told them they were not alone, and that a total of eight sports will be cut from the program. The water polo team was also told it was in the proposal to be cut, swim team members said.
Members of Maryland’s swim team said they were very surprised when Athletic Director Kevin Anderson told them the news. “Kevin Anderson came in, and the whole coaching staff was there, and he basically stood up in front of us, and just bluntly said, ‘The athletic department has been looking at ways to cut back and save money on the budget.’ And he said, ‘Your program is one of the programs that’s going to the president to be cut,'” said Chelsey Eberwein, a junior on the team.
“I kind of felt like my whole word came crashing down in a second. It’s hard to even imagine that,” said Haley Bull, a redshirt sophomore on the team. “It’s definitely hard to deal with,” said Sloan.
The swimmers, many of whom are on scholarship, said that they have two options: to transfer and swim for another team next year, or continue at Maryland with their scholarship, but without a varsity team.
Maryland’s athletic department is projected to have a $4.7 million short-fall for this year, according to the Washington Post. Swimming and diving were targeted, in part, because of the cost of renting facilities. The Athletic Department is self-sufficient, meaning it’s supposed to pay its own bills. The swimming pool at the University’s Recreation Center is owned by the Campus Recreation Service Department (CRS). The Athletic Department has been required to pay CRS $288,000 a year in order to rent the pool, according to a source with knowledge of athletic department’s finances.
Last summer, Loh created a committee to study the budget issues, and make proposals to him on how to handle the problem. Athletic Director Anderson was not on that panel, but as the head of the department, he told “The Washington Post” on July 9 that cutting sports was “not something that we’re looking at.”
Brian Ullmann from the University’s Communications office denied that any teams were told they were being cut, and said “Any comment at this time is premature.” The committee’s proposal is due to Loh on November 15, he said. Loh has to officially accept the proposals in order for the teams to be cut. Ullmann did acknowledge that Anderson met with the team on Tuesday, but said it was only regarding early recruiting, and the uncertainty of what the committee will recommend.
Because the swim team practices so much, many members of the team are very close with each other. The prospect of not being able to swim, the team members say, is hard to imagine.
There are 26 swimmers and divers listed on the women’s team roster, and 24 on the men’s team.