PHOENIX, Arizona, January 8. FRESNO State University announced late yesterday that beginning next fall, it was reinstating its women's swimming and diving team, dropped after the 2003-04 season, and adding a new women's sport, lacrosse. The move comes in the wake of FSU's well-publicized gender-equity woes.
The decision was greeted enthusiastically by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America this morning. CSCAA Executive Director Phillip Whitten stated: "We are absolutely delighted with Fresno State's decision to revive its women's team. Over the years, FSU has produced some outstanding swimmers and has been guided by several superb coaches, notably Teri McKeever and Daniela Irle.'
Swimming – both women's and men's – has long been a popular sport at Fresno State, Whitten noted, and the decision four years ago to cut it, along with soccer, was met with months-long protests and fund-raising efforts. FSU administrators had claimed in 2004 that the decision to cut the two sports was a budgetary decision.
All of that conflict was forgotten yesterday as FSU Athletic Director, Thomas Boeh, and senior associate athletic director Betsy Mosher were all smiles and optimism in explaining the Title IX significance of their announcement.
By adding 26 women's scholarships – 14 in swimming and 12 in lacrosse — Fresno State should meet or come close to complying with Title IX mandates, Boeh said. "This is as good as it gets, when you get to do something that is positive and you get to advance the program," he added.
"The swimming community lobbied hard over the last several months to reinstate the women's swim team," Whitten noted, with both national leaders and local enthusiasts voicing their support for swimming. "The CSCAA as well as ASCA and USA Swimming all voiced their support for reviving swimming and diving when we learned a few months ago that FSU planned to add two women's sports. But undoubtedly, the major factor was the local support in the San Joaquin Valley."
"This is a great day for our sport," Whitten said, adding "now about that men's team…."
Special thanks to the CSCAA for contributing this report.