SYRACUSE, New York, January 15. FACING the ax, Syracuse Swimming can chalk a mark into its "short-term win" column, having earned an unexpected three-year reprieve.
Syracuse Director of Athletics Daryl Gross announced that rather than cutting the swimming program at the end of this season, the department will instead embark on a three-year phase out.
This move gives Save Syracuse Swimming and all involved in trying to save the program more time to develop a long-term strategic plan. It can also be viewed as a win for Gross, who earns points for reducing the impact on current Syracuse swimmers, while he positions his office to support a cut or a resurgence within the three-year timeline.
"We are pleased that Dr. Gross has honored our proposed request of staying the transition for three years," said Lynne Gollands, a member of the Save Syracuse Swimming movement. "Our goal, however, is to still work to preserve and protect the viability of this program long after the current athletes have graduated."
The move now puts the onus to save the program completely on the Save Syracuse Swimming movement and the swimming community.
"This is a very, very positive development," said Phil Whitten, Executive Director of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. "It is a giant first step in the right direction. Many people contributed to this success – success always has a thousand authors – but the lion's share of the credit goes to Lynne Gollands and her never-say-die, intrepid crew, and to the students on the Syracuse team and the supporters in the student government. One lesson to be learned from this is never say die. Keep the pressure up all the time. Due to Lynne's tenacity, a major program has been saved."
The question now remains, is three years enough time to do whatever it takes to Save Syracuse?
Syracuse's Full Release:
Syracuse University Director of Athletics Dr. Daryl Gross today announced that the University will offer current members of the swimming and diving team the opportunity to continue competing on the intercollegiate level through the exhaustion of their eligibility or the conclusion of the 2010-11 season. This phase-out of the program, which will include a reduced operating budget and competitive schedule, will give team members the opportunity to compete and finish their careers at SU.
"We have had some student-athletes who, although they recognize the program has been discontinued, have expressed an interest in finding a way to complete their career as student-athletes at SU," Gross said. "Though swimming and diving as an intercollegiate program has officially ended at SU, this phase-out will honor the commitment our student-athletes have made, allow them to complete their careers at Syracuse and give them the chance to continue to compete. "
This plan provides current swimming and diving student-athletes three options from which to choose: to continue to swim/dive at SU; to retain their SU scholarship but not remain on the team; or to transfer to another institution. Recruiting of student-athletes for the team has already ceased, and the phase-out of the program will begin with the 2008-09 season. This phase-out will end after the 2010-11 season. In June 2007, the Athletics Department announced the discontinuation of the swimming and diving team after the 2007-08 season.