By Phillip Whitten
HANOVER, N.H., January 9. YESTERDAY'S decision by Dartmouth College to reverse its decision to kill its seventy-plus year-old swimming program came only after intense lobbying by swimmers, their parents, the alumni and influential outsiders, as well as persistent demonstrations and strong statements of support by other athletes and the student body in general.
In the near future, SwimInfo and Swimming World will run a behind-the scenes account of how that reversal was effected.
Meanwhile, Dartmouth College has released an official statement xplaining its decision. It is reproduced below:
The Dartmouth men’s and women’s varsity swimming and diving programs will be continued through a funding agreement between a group of students, alumni, and parents and the Dartmouth administration. The agreement calls for the program to be fully reinstated based on a $2 million fund-raising effort.
“I am very pleased that we have reached a positive outcome that enables us to continue the program,” Athletic Director JoAnn Harper said. “Through the efforts of a group of generous alumni, parents and friends, and the support of President Wright, Dean Larimore, and the senior administration, we have overcome the budget pressure that forced the original decision.”
Dartmouth announced in late November that the swimming/diving program would be eliminated at the end of the current competitive season in March as part of planned College-wide budget reductions.
A recent series of discussions between Dartmouth officials and supporters of swimming and diving (including current students, their families and alumni) produced the agreement. Under its terms the teams will be restored through $2 million in pledges to finance operating expenses for 10 years while other funding options are identified. The continuation of the program next year will be supported with funding arranged through reallocations in the Dean of the College area.
“We are delighted to reach an agreement that allows the swimming and diving program at Dartmouth to continue, while recognizing the budget goals that Dartmouth must meet,” said Dean of the College James Larimore. “The College does face significant budget challenges and will take the measures it must to be fiscally responsible. The agreement supports Dartmouth in meeting our fiscal responsibilities and also maintaining the swimming and diving program. We are eager to do that.”
President James Wright said that the plan "is a wonderful example of how the Dartmouth community can work together in a constructive effort. I commend the different groups involved – the athletes, Student Assembly, parents, and alumni/ae as well as James Larimore and JoAnn Harper and her staff, and I am pleased that we will continue to have swimming and diving at Dartmouth."
The volunteer effort has been led by former Dartmouth varsity swimmers John Ballard ’55, Tom Kelsey ’54 and Steve Mullins ’54, and by several parents of swim team members, including Dean Allen, Paul and Marilyn Bochicchio, Sheila Brown Klinger, Bart Cameron, and Chuck Zarba.
Ballard, chair of the Board of Overseers of Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering, said the $2 million in pledges will be provided to Dartmouth through the newly formed John C. Glover Fund for the Support of Swimming and Diving. Glover, a member of the class of 1955, was widely regarded as a top sprinter when he died in early 1956 while in training as an Olympic swimmer. The athletic department presents annually the Glover Award to the swimming team member “who demonstrates the athletic and scholastic qualities associated with the late John Glover.”
“We are grateful to the leaders of Dartmouth for their willingness to listen to the needs of Dartmouth students, the desires of alumni, and the concerns of swimmers and divers everywhere,” Ballard said. “They have earned the trust we place in them.”
The decision to eliminate the swimming and diving program stemmed from the impact that the current general economic downturn has had on Dartmouth, as it has on many other colleges and universities, and the resulting allocation of necessary budget reductions throughout the institution.
The Dartmouth athletic department faces a $260,000 reduction of its $10.8 million annual operating budget. The department had already pared down administrative budgets, increased revenue expectations, and required reductions to intercollegiate, recreation and maintenance budgets the previous year.
Dartmouth faces challenges similar to other Division I institutions in attempting to balance a broad array of intercollegiate and recreational programs and the resources available for them. Dartmouth offers one of the nation’s most extensive Division I athletic programs with 34 varsity sports — 16 men’s, 16 women’s and two coed — involving opportunities for more than 900 student-athletes, while having one of the smallest enrollments in Division I with 4,300 undergraduates.