College Swimming Coaches Association of America Requests Restraint in Potential New Orleans Recruiting

PHOENIX, Arizona, May 6. THE College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) distributed a letter to its membership today asking that teams use proper restraint in their efforts to recruit potential student-athletes from the University of New Orleans.

New Orleans, which has decided to cut its entire athletics department, is currently working on potential outside funding sources to maintain the solvency of athletics on campus.

However, the athletics director previously had released all student-athletes from their obligation to New Orleans before rescinding that release this morning.

The CSCAA distributed the following letter requesting that colleges looking to pick up transfers from New Orleans follow some voluntary guidelines:

As I did last year when it was announced that the Arizona State University men’s team was being cut, I am writing to you this morning to ask, once again, that you put your own team’s best interest aside temporarily and act in the best interest of our sport.

The problem this time is at the University of New Orleans, whose swim team has progressed by leaps and bounds since being reinstated two years ago.

The issue this time is different from our usual problem of trying to save a [usually] men’s team that is being cut, ostensibly for budgetary reasons or to be in compliance with Title IX

The issue with UNO is this: Like most states, Louisiana is facing a severe budgetary shortfall. In response, the governor announced he would make severe cuts in the state’s allocation to UNO.

Rather than see its teams devastated by inadequate funding, the University decided to cut the entire athletic program. It followed up last Friday, May 1, by giving every student-athlete his or her release.

The local community was in an uproar when this decision was announced and desperate efforts currently are being made to raise the money to save UNO athletics or for the state legislature to take such action as to save the department.

The budgetary crisis in Louisiana is real, but we believe the groups organizing to save the athletic department have a chance to succeed. It’s an outside chance, but they may be successful. Recognizing that possibility of success, earlier this morning James Miller, the UNO Athletic Director, rescinded the athletes’ releases.

The reason I am writing to you today is to ask that you do the following, if you are interested in pursuing any of the UNO swimmers:

1. As a professional courtesy, please inform UNO head coach Randy Horner of your action. His contact info is:
E-mail: rhorner@uno.edu
Tel: 504-615-7629

2. You agree to allow the swimmers to return to UNO if the movement to restore the UNO athletic dept and budget is successful.

These are extraordinary times, and extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Phil Whitten
Executive Director
CSCAA

Below is the statement issued this morning by UNO Athletic Director James W. Miller:
On May 1, 2009, students at the University of New Orleans narrowly defeated a proposal to increase the dedicated fee they pay to support the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. At that time, our sole recourse to maintain our program was a hope that the Louisiana Legislature will trim the governor’s proposed cuts to higher education, which has prompted the proposed cuts to Athletics. Since that outcome would not be known until late June, we felt that our first concern should be the welfare of our student-athletes.

To that end, we believed it appropriate to allow them to explore their options, and we published a letter in accordance with NCAA Bylaw 13.1.1.3 that would allow blanket permission for other institutions to contact our student-athletes.

In the intervening days, we have had an outpouring of local support that we believe will lead to our ability to maintain our program. Therefore, we hereby rescind the May 1 blanket permission to contact and will treat any requests for contact or release by student-athletes on a case-by-case basis. We have asked the Sun Belt Conference office to distribute this to conference members and to all NCAA institutions.

James W. Miller
Director of Athletics

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