Kansas Students Rally To Support Men's Swimming and Tennis -- March 8, 2001
By Phillip Whitten
LAWRENCE, Kansas. March 8. THE decision by the University of Kansas to ax men's swimming and tennis has met with fierce resistance from students and student-athletes at the university as well as from outraged alumni. The reaction was immediate, as students ripped gaping holes in the rationales cited by Athletic Director Bob Frederick for the decision. The students and alums hope to convince the university to reverse its decision.
Meeting last night, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which is headed by swimmer Rob Kelly and is composed of athletes representing every sport at KU, voted unanimously to support the two programs on the chopping block.
The SAAC issued a call for action to the general public to show its support for the two men's sports. SAAC is requesting that all supporters demand that these programs be reinstated, and that supporters barrage the University with phone calls, e-mails and faxes (info below).
Swimming and other Olympic sports--particularly men's Olympic sports--have been under assault from short-sighted and cynical university administrators for a decaade now. Men's collegiate swim programs have declined during this time. Other sports, such as men's gymanstics and wrestling, have been devastated and are on the verge of extinction.
This is a battle that concerns ALL of us--not just students and alumni of the University of Kansas. we must reverse this decision...and see to it that there are no more such decisions elsewhere.
the Kansas swimmers need your support. Read below to see how you can help.
At 4:00 pm on Friday, March 9, the students will be at an alumni gathering in a tent near the Golden Ox restaurant just east of the Kemper Arena. Current KU athletes will be staging a peaceful demonstration and handing out flyers containing the facts of the situation before the KU basketball game at 6:00. Anyone who can make it should be there to show their support.
RALLY FOR INTEGRITY AT THE CHANCELLOR'S HOUSE
Students, alums and supporters will meet on Saturday, March 10 at 9:15 am at the west side of Robinson Gymnasium. From there they will march to the Chancellor's house to show support for Kansas Sports. they want as many people as possible--numbers count. T-shirts will bve printed up and local media coverage is being solicited. It is important to show the University all the positive things swimming has to offer.
Chancellor Robert Hemenway firstname.lastname@example.org
Athletic Director bob Frederick email@example.com
Kansas Board of Regents: tel: 785-296-3421
Check out our featured product!
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MORE NEWS AND INFO FROM THE KANSAS STUDENTS
KANSAS WEB SITES:
Listen to Sports Radio 810 WHB Friday: They are broadcasting live from the tent at Kemper Arena. We will have a representative to speak on Kevin Kietzman's "Between The Lines" radio show, the top rated afternoon sports talk show on the radio market!
* The Saturday march: poster boards only---police request no signs with sticks, etc...We need a huge turnout!
In the Lawrence Journal World article, Bob Fredrick calls our response "light".
PLEASE, PLEASE, PROVE HIM WRONG - EMAIL HIM, more than firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's some ammo for you letters:
* Positives of the program: great graduation rate, since 1924, 37 All America swims, 145 Individual Conference Champions, etc....
Tuition paid by KU Men's Swimmers:
8 in-state paying $2725 (4 of them on zero (0) Scholarship)17 out-of-state paying $9494 (Six on Books or Less - which is very little)Total $183,181 tuition to the University
All or most of the $183,181 will be lost revenue for the University, and only part of it comes from scholarship money. The University should at the
very least be willing to contribute this amount of money to the department for the sake of the positive good will and image it generates. It will be lost revenue any way you look at it, it may as well have a positive side. (Its very likely, thought hard to substantiate, that swimming brings more than just the active swimmers to the University - those that plan to swim and don't or can't handle it or whatever.)
10 student-athletes have a 3.0 or better GPA.
2 National Merit Scholar Finalists were being recruited.
KUstore.com - a risky dotcom venture at best, operated by KUAC, kustore.com enjoys a ton of advertising exposure at no cost. KU is believed to be the only athletics department in the nation to handle its own e-commerce.
Meanwhile, there are sponsors lined up wanting to associate with KU basketball. It very likely the value of potential sponsors lost to kustore.com would exceed $600,000 saved by cutting swimming and tennis.
They've got ads on the mega-vision board, billboards, the scorer's table in AFH, and broadcast drop-in's. They need to contract out (as they've done in the past) to the someone else (possibly KU Bookstores) who does retail and e-commerce so that the liability is off the department. Until then, they will keep throwing valuable resources into a losing prospect. Sales will never justify the lost media revenue and overhead.
Dropping the men's teams greatly hurts recruiting for the women's teams! This has happened at many schools that have cut the men only.
PLEASE WRITE LETTERS!!!
Names and email address to write letters to:
News About our protests:
James Madison University recently cut men's swimming (and other sports), but they were successfully reinstated by provided private funds for
Comments from Brad Wells: mailto:email@example.com
The KU Swimming and Diving Program has always been a class act and we must continue to operate that way.
We have got to stay with the plan to be very positive in our approach and focus on what is right about KU Swimming and not continue to bash the very department we wish to join up with. I realize there are many factors involved as to why we are in the place that we are in, but we must focus on the solutions it would take right now to reinstate this program.
What is going to win the battle is respect for what this program stands and a long term commitment to give. Be ready. KU can not afford to lose its Men's Swimming Program!
Letter from Greg Kristoff - KU Men's Swimming Asst Coach
The decision by the Kansas University Athletic Corporation to drop the men's swimming & diving and men's tennis programs was made this past Sunday, March 4, 2001. Unlike the Administration, the Kansas swimming family (alumni, parents, friends) as well as many Kansas Athletic Department supporters do not see it as a final decision. The University of Washington
and James Madison University recently had the decision to drop their men's and women's swimming programs reversed. A few other programs have been given the opportunity to raise money to help save their teams (Iowa State, Miami of Ohio, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois). The University of Georgia and University of Southern California has an endowment established
to help underwrite their scholarships for men's swimming & diving, the University of Texas women's program has done the same, as has the University
of North Carolina for both men's and women's swimming & diving.
We see alternatives available that will continue to support a program that has over a 70-year history of tradition. Trimming money from the men's
swimming & diving budget was not even presented as an option by the Athletic Director. The operating budget totals approximately $400,000. Cuts could be made in recruiting, travel and equipment costs. The trimming of the operating budget would directly meet two of the three key concerns of the Athletic Administration as outlined in their initial press release. The most impacting alternative would be to raise money to endow scholarships, also dismissed as an option before the decision was made. To accomplish this goal would mean to raise approximately $1 million dollars. This would
allow all swimming & diving scholarships, approximately $178,000 per year,
to be underwritten and would be a one-time occurrence so that money would not have to be raised each and every year. This would directly address the third concern of the Athletic Administration, the rising costs of scholarship expenses.
This abrupt decision has directly affected approximately 50 student-athletes, whose lives have been turned upside down. The University of Kansas Student-Athlete Handbook states the Athletic Department's core values for student-athletes and staff members. The first two core values are dignity and respect. "We value treating each individual with dignity and respect." How dignified and respectful have the actions of the Athletic Department been with this swift and heavy-handed move? The third core value
is integrity, which is defined as "we value doing the right thing, the right way, for the right reasons, and doing so with honesty in all our actions." Is cutting of sports the right thing to do? No, it was the easy way out.
With these three values in mind it is only fair that we be given the opportunity to explore every viable option concerning finances. With respect to two more Athletic Department core values, communication and
teamwork, these two programs as members of the KUAC family, deserve honest communication with the Administration to discuss the options listed above.
Support can be directed toward the President, Athletic Director and the Williams Fund. One letter is great, but the more the better. We would greatly appreciate any support you can offer (calls, letters, e-mails, faxes, financial offers, etc.) Let's not hesitate to show the Athletic Administration how much these two programs are valued!
Assistant Men's Swimming Coach
University of Kansas
My apologies to Gary Kempf for including usubstan-tiated claims made in a previous email.
Letter From Gary Kempf:
I had lunch with friend yesterday who had been through a similar situation as our tennis and swimming teams are in now. His program wasn't droppped, but
it was one of several programs that were being considered . I wanted to offer a couple suggestions that came out of our discussion. . . . you do with them
what you want. I talked with you yesterday about the need for the use of positive aspects of swimming and diving. Since our sport has been cut, the key could be for the right people to want to have swimming and diving as part of the University again, for all the positive intangible it offers. In the heat of emotion, we sometimes forget that the University does not "owe" anyone the right or opportunity to compete. The University gives us the opportunity to be a member of the Swimming and Diving Team. Demanding action, demanding the right, or trying to threaten the chancellor or Dr. Frederick might only further alienate opportunity. We all know that we benefitted from our opportunity at the University of Kansas and explaining those benefits and how these benefits
could help current and future athletes makes our program a significant part of the educational process. Last year our administratoin and the chancellor's office heard a lot of negative criticism about our program, followed by a lot of positive. More negative pressure this year and threats of
limited-to-no-donations to the Williams Fund might only alienate the problem.
We all are hurt by the current loss, but hurting the athletic departments's reputation, will only cause more struggles for current and future athletes. I
guess I encourage not hurting others because our lives have beeen hurt.
Olympic Sports are the true essence of athletics and trying to sell this philosophy might help. Our vision for the future should be built on the positives of today. Just some thoughts to think about..
It is also important that our facts are right if they are going to be made public. On a personal note, my salary did not change when I moved into my new
position. Everything stayed the same, except I did lose some of the perks that were given only to the Head Coaches. . . and this was fair. My salary is
not 70,000, but the same it has been for the last four years. In my new job, my responsibilities have also expanded from the previous director.
From Robert Groseth: Northwestern Coach firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy to add my name to the list. I have already contacted some of the principles. One thing that could be helpful would be to get some of the current and alumni women to comment on what it would be like without the Men's team. Both Illinois and UCLA had a lot of trouble recruiting for their Women's teams after they dropped the Men's program. A sobering fact
is that before the last Title IX onslaught in the early 90's when a Men's or Women's swimming program got dropped the other one was dropped within three years. With Title IX becoming less of a factor it's not just the Men who may be in jepordy(see Nebraska)
From Tracy McCalley
To Whom It May Concern:
As an Alumni of KU I am quite upset upon learning of your decisions to terminate the men's swimming/diving and the men's tennis programs. As a former athlete at KU, these decisions, quite frankly, make me ill. The
reasons put forth for these decisions only exacerbate my disgust in the athletic department's inability to do what is best for the student athletes, past, present and those yet to come.
The Athletic Department cites budgetary reasons for the termination of these programs. As a former swimmer I realize that the swimming does not generate
a good deal of revenue. BUT I also know that as a sport, it requires only a small amount of the athletic department's expenditure.
The Football program at KU is nothing to write home about, in fact, in relation to the rest of the Big 12 schools, it's almost embarrassing. I understand the theory of improving the football facilities in order to
perpetuate the hopeful growth of a better program. Maybe this will happen, maybe it won't. But I believe that the athletic department has far exceeded the amount of money it should have been willing to contribute to football for those purposes.
Meanwhile, the men and women's swimming teams have been practicing in less than mediocre facilities for the past 20 years. In fact, some of the ailments of Robinson Natatorium could be considered health hazards i.e. the ventilation problems which, after a difficult workout cause swimmers to experience fits of coughing so violent they often lead to sleepless nights and upset stomachs. However, as swimmers we accepted these nuances, continued to train hard every day and knew that unless we were lucky enough to have a generous alumni strike gold or win the lottery and find it worthy to donate the required funds to build a new pool, that we would most likely never see the day when KU athletics would provide these facilities. The
ironic thing is that the KU swimming and diving programs have some of the most generous alumni. Our alumni are a tight knit group of people who year after year demonstrate legions of Jayhawk pride. Our alumni weekend in October, each year, is legendary. I don't know of any other sports teams at KU that annually have such an event. This weekend is always funded by the most zealous alumnae who continue to do this each year because a) the turnout is always phenomenal b) they love KU swimming and diving c) they have a strong commitment to follow through with tradition d) they LOVE being Jayhawks.
It is an absolute injustice to the program and the alumni that these people were not notified of these 'budgetary issues' that ultimately held their
program in jeopardy. These people would go out of their way to protect the program and keep the tradition alive.
I seriously question the REAL motives behind the termination of these programs. I also express serious concern for the future of the women's teams. As a former female swimmer I can honestly say that part of my decision to leave California to attend KU as a swimming Jayhawk was due to the obvious close ties between the men's and women's teams, a family that is
inviting to an incoming freshman facing the new challenges of life away from home. Kansas Swimming provides such a family, but you take away the men's
team and half of that family is gone. The women's team will suffer. But then again, maybe you're just planning on cutting the women's team next year. If this is the case then you're about to lose on every level possible.
These decisions are more than plain decisions, they are injustices, and they are disservices. If I were to attempt to tell you about the things I learned from swimming, this long letter would be a ridiculous novel.
Swimmers work hard, possibly harder than any other sport across the board.
And they do this with very little recognition. Their sport is seldom televised. It is a rarity for a swimmer to turn pro and actually make a living doing the sport they have dedicated their life to for years on end.
Yet, if you were to take the time to actually follow the lives of swimmers you would realize that they are among the brightest athletes. They succeed
in the classroom. They graduate well. They move on to successful careers and become upstanding citizens. Most importantly, they know the value of hard work and will never forget the 5am workouts, the 5 hours + of training each day, the weekends spent sleeping instead of partying and the Christmas breaks spent at the pool instead of with family, all for the love of the sport, the will to succeed in the pool and the desire to represent with the utmost pride their University. The University of Kansas. The Jayhawks. It is a travesty that this tradition of hard work and pride is on the rocks.
It's time for the Athletic Department to reassess it's decision making principles. Take a look at what is truly BEST for the student athletes. I'd like to see what exactly is the intended use of the money that will be 'saved' by cutting these small programs. Where will it go? To further renovate the football stadium? To raise the salaries of excessive administrative positions within the department? Will it's usage actually benefit student athletes? Will the proposed benefits of 'saving' this money actually outweigh the costs of not only losing these student athletes and future student athletes but also the pride and support of alumni?
Tracey McCalley 99'
If you have anything you'd like to say to everyone on the list, send then to me and I'll forward it on or if you want a copy of the list let me know. We are up to about 180 people so far.
!! PLEASE FORWARD THIS MESSAGE !!
Forward this to anyone willing to help - friends, family, coaches, swimmers,etc...
For more details and to get involved feel free to contact me: