STOCKTON, California, January 17. TWO days ago, John Brown University announced that it would cut women's swimming at the end of the year.
Fairly quickly, we heard from Pacific assistant coach Joe Plane, who is an alum of John Brown University.
Here is his passionate letter reprinted with his permission:
Hello, I am writing this in hopes that all who receive it as well as the President of JBU, Dr. Charles Pollard, will take a few moments of reflection to think about this decision to cut women's swimming and the previous decision to cut men's swimming from John Brown University.
Beginning with my personal experience, I would have never had any affiliation with JBU if it weren't for the swimming team. I chose JBU because of the good engineering program and the intercollegiate swimming team. I would not be the person I am today with the experiences gained during my 3.5 years in Siloam Springs.
When I got married in 2001 (6 years after I left JBU) 3 of my groomsmen were from JBU. Those are lifelong friendships that I would not have made. The job I have now is due to my swimming coach from 1994-1995, Kelly Kremer. Had I not swum for him at JBU, I would not be where I am now, coaching NCAA Division I swimming in Stockton, CA.
From a relationship to the school standpoint, the swimmers who have come through JBU have won at least 4 NAIA National Championships in Nikki Peterson and Bill Seabert, and countless All Americans. Just look at the wall above the pool. The swimming and diving team has brought as much or more national recognition to JBU than the rest of the sports.
And, speaking of the other sports at JBU. With this cut, you are now down to 3 men's sports and 4 women's sports. What is the purpose of having intercollegiate athletics with a department that size? Where is the school pride? What is the reason for having a mascot, and an athletic director for 7 teams?
Finally, what about the mission of the University? You are a Christian University priding yourself in Evangelizing and spreading the word? You, of course, know that many of the athletes you bring to the university don't have those religious ties. In the course of attending JBU, they will encounter the Bible and learn its lessons and teachings, and quite possibly accept Jesus as their Savior, which is what you strive for in everything you teach and talk about.
In eliminating sports, you are reducing the amount of "non-Christians" that will attend your school, thus making it simply a place for Christians only. (save a few) Is that your mission? I don't believe it is. Yet, it seems like you are missing the big picture, and taking away opportunities for students to see what you have to offer as a university as well as a mission. Those students will now go somewhere else and maybe never hear the message you speak so loudly about.
I hope you will take the time to fully consider this action. In a time when the school is growing so rapidly, and adding and upgrading buildings to the point that I can't hardly recognize the campus, it seems to me that this is the time to add more opportunities, not eliminate them.
Joe Plane JBU 1992-1995