By Phillip Whitten
PHOENIX, October 12. JUST over one day. That’s how much time you — no, we — have to help save the men’s swim team at Rutgers University.
At 11:30 A.M. on Friday, October 13, the University’s Board of Governors (BOG) will meet in Camden, NJ, to consider a request to reinstate the men’s swimming and diving team, along with five other teams (four men’s and one women’s).
On July 14, the BOG, acting upon the recommendation of Robert Mulcahy III, the school’s Athletic Director, announced it was cutting the six teams. Mulcahy said he was acting in response to the budget crisis in New Jersey. The cuts, which amounted to three percent of the athletic department’s budget, were regrettable, Mulcahy had said, but unfortunately were necessary – though he then found an extra one million dollars to throw at the football team.
Mulcahy stated he had based his decision on which teams to cut on three criteria:
2. each team’s success, both athletic and academic
3. membership in the Big East conference
All three criteria were clearly NOT the basis for cutting men’s swimming, or the other five teams for that matter. Why?
1. The men’s swim team comprises only 4 percent of the athletic budget – less than the cost of EACH football and basketball player at Rutgers. Given the opportunity, the team could easily raise that amount from alumni and supporters. Yet, Mulcahy, who said he had explored every possible alternative to the cuts, apparently never considered the obvious: cutting each team by 3 percent and giving alumni the opportunity to raise additional funds through donations.
Actually the official budget is, itself, an overstatement. If you factor in the out-of-state students and the difference they pay in tuition (when compared with in-state students, their likely replacements if the team is cut), it turns out the university actually makes a small profit on men’s swimming.
2. Men’s swimming is one of the top two performing men’s teams on the field. The Scarlet Knights have sent swimmers to the NCAA Championships in three of the past four years – a record no other team in the Big East can match. Academically, the team has a 100 percent graduation rate (as do men’s tennis and men’s and women’s fencing, two other teams on the chopping block). In contrast, the football team (which lost over $3 million last year) has less than a 70 percent graduation rate. The athletes on the men’s swim team have won numerous academic awards, including being named a CSCAA Academic All American team, and personify the student-athlete ideal. These athletes have also been among the leaders in community service for many years.
3. The swim team, of course, is a Big East powerhouse. In contrast, some of the teams that were not cut do not even compete in the conference.
For more than a century, Rutgers has prided itself on its mission statement, which provides for a commitment to an inclusive, broad-based athletic program. Don’t allow one man – with absolutely no justification – to undo a century of proud tradition and achievement.
Write to the members of the BOG TODAY!! (For additional points to make, log onto saverutgersswimming.org.
Here are the names and e-mail addresses of the members of the BOG:
Albert R. Gamper, Jr email@example.com
Ronald W, Giaconia firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie E. Goodman email@example.com
M. William Howard, Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert A. Laudicina email@example.com
Duncan L. MacMillan firstname.lastname@example.org
Patricia Nachtigal email@example.com
Gene O’Hara firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrick M. Ryan email@example.com
Two BOG members – John F. Russo, Sr. and George R. Zoffinger – do not have e-mail, but can be reached through Leslie A. Fehrenbach, the Board’s secretary at: Fehrenbach@oldqueens.rutgers.edu
Phillip Whitten is Executive Director of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).