James Madison, San Francisco State Fight to Save Swim Teams From the Ax

By Phillip Whitten

DECEMBER 5. SUPPORTERS of the swimming programs at James Madison University and San Francisco State University are fighting to save their teams from the budgetary axes wielded by short-sighted, cynical school officials.

In the case of JMU, the athletic director is citing Title IX as his reason for cutting the program, along with several other "minor" sports. Ironically, JMU now boasts the winningest team in the school's history. At SFS, the reason cited is an outmoded facility.

Ironically, the action comes after the unprecedented success of the US Olympic Swim Team and after several universities–most recently the University of Washington–decided to reverse plans to drop swimming.

The following is an edited e-mail we received recently from Joseph Molle, a JMU alumnus, explaining the situation:

"We're in a bit of a situation down here: Swimming is going really well,and just when we thought everyhing was okay, we recieved word of the proposal to cut our program. The AD here wants to expand our football program and further comply with Title IX.

"The decision has to be approved by the board of visitors, then the president, and then some other committee. Official decisions won't be made until January. Our coach has drafted a letter explaining the situation, and we're asking friends/family/coaches/ freinds of swimming everywhere to send us e-mail addresses and to pass the word.

"We're encouraging JMU swimming supporters to write letters to the Athletic Department and University president to voice their opinions on how this is such a bad decision. we would appreciate it if you could pass the word to other people whom you think would be willing to support us. We need all the support we can get."

Coach Ryan Frost issued the following statement:

"It is time to do battle once again! I am attempting to reach as many former Duke Dog swimmers, family members, friends, relatives, neighbors, acquaintances, etc. This situation is no longer a
possible threat in my mind, it is an extreme emergency for the future of James Madison Men's Swimming and Diving.

"On November 8, 2000, Jeff Bourne, JMU Athletic Director, publicly announced a proposal to supposedly help James Madison University's athletic budget and Title 9 issues. Other programs to be cut include:
Wrestling, Men's and Women's Gymnastics, Men's and Women's Fencing, and Men's and Women's Tennis.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time to do battle once again! I am not only calling out to former swimmers of JMU, I am asking for the help of everyone. It doesn't matter if you are just a friend of a friend of a friend of a JMU swimmer, you too can help us fight for a chance to keep Duke Dog Pride alive. And after we win this battle like we have so many other battles in the past, you too can join in the celebration of our future success, and feel good that you were a part of making it possible.

"This is our current plan of attack. As quickly as possible, I am looking to start a massive database of people's names and e-mail addresses. I am asking everyone who reads this and is interested in helping fight for the JMU swim team to do two things:
1. Reply with your name and e-mail address, and
2. Forward this list to everyone and anyone that you think may wish to participate in this battle.

"Let me say that everyone can help, and it WILL take everyone to help us win this fight. An especially effective way to fight this problem is to gain the support of alumni, parents, coaches, and current and future students and faculty of JMU, plus people in the swimming community. We need to focus our attention not only to the Athletic Department but more so to Dr. Linwood Rose, President of JMU, and the Board of Visitors who need to realize that by cutting the JMU
Swim and Dive Team, the following would occur:
* Current students will transfer
* Prospective students will not choose JMU
* Alumni and parents will stop financial support
of JMU
* Conference and National recognition will decline
* A strong men's program and public recognition
will be abolished
* The belief of what James Madison University
stands for will diminish (a place for everyone
because of the many offerings of the institution.)

"I hope this plea reaches the parents, coaches, alumni and high school students considering JMU as a top choice for college. I definitely do not want to discourage anybody from coming to JMU, especially future JMU swimmers. The results of this issue will be
finalized in January, so any of you would know what the future of James Madison Swimming is before you made a commitment. However, I believe the possibility of JMU Swimming and Diving being cut should be known,
so that we can take a stand and battle to the end.

"I am asking everyone to make contact with the President, Athletic Department and the Board of Visitors. A dedicated, distinguished alumnus is creating a letter, that I will e-mail out for those who are not fully aware of what the problem is. This will make it easier for everyone; however, for those creative and motivated types, individually-written
letters and such are even better. Currently, I have been told that since the proposals by Jeff Bourne were made public on November 13, 2000, the matter went to Dr. Rose for his suggestions and then to the Board of Visitors for the final decision, which should be in January.

"Let's not hesitate! Let's start the fight now! One letter is great, but the more the merrier! I would greatly appreciate any support you can offer (calls, word of mouth, letters, e-mails, financial offers, etc. Support can be directed toward the President, Athletic Director, Board of Visitors, Attorney General, Governor of Virginia, etc (lets be creative).

"IT IS TIME TO BATTLE ONCE AGAIN!"

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, contact:
Joseph Molle at mollejt@jmu.edu
or Coach Ryan Frost at frostrc@jum.edu

SAN Francisco State officially released a public statement that it would discontinue its swimming
program following the 2000-01 academic year. The statement cited the supposedly outdated swimming facility as the main factor behind the decision.

The swim team, which consists of 40 swimmers, unanimously agreed that the pool’s condition was acceptable. In addition to that, the school will continue to teach its aquatics courses and offer
recreational swimming in that outdated swimming facility well beyond 2001.

Following the footsteps of the University of Washington and the University of Miami swim programs, which saved their swim programs after they were initially dropped, San Francisco State Swimming is currently involved in an intense effort to save it's swim program.

More information and suggestions for action will be outlined in future stories.

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