Swim Coaches to Seize the Initiative in Battle to Save College Swimming

PHOENIX, August 9. PHILLIP Whitten, newly-appointed Executive Director of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), announced today the formation of four committees “to begin the systematic defense of our sport at the collegiate level.”

Whitten described the reasons for the CSCAA’s action plan: “Since 1991, more than 60 college swim teams – primarily Division I men’s teams – have been cut, ostensibly for budgetary or Title IX reasons,” he said, calling for college coaches at all levels to apply to serve on the four task forces and an additional three dozen committees to be announced in the near future.

The four committees are:
1. The SOS: Save Our Sport – booklet revision committee
2. Crisis Team
3. Opportunity Team
4. Prospecting Team

Descriptions of the missions of these four committees are included in the sidebar below.

Seizing the Initiative
“No longer will we just sit back and allow misguided, and often ill-informed, athletic administrators to kill off teams whose members personify the NCAA ideal of the student-athlete,” Whitten said. “We intend to fight for every program.

“In fact, we intend to take the initiative by taking action in several areas: producing publications, holding seminars at our and ASCA’s national conventions, and making information available on our web site, as well as the web sites of our supporters, on how coaches can make their programs virtually ‘cut-proof.’

“Further,” he said, “we plan immediately to set up a legal defense network, in which attorneys with swimming backgrounds will represent threatened teams and the CSCAA.

“Not only that,” Whitten said, “but we also plan to work with schools that have cut swimming teams in the past to bring them back and we will be proactive in helping to create new programs. This will be done for both men’s and women’s teams and at all levels of collegiate swimming,” though he acknowledged that Div. II schools seem to offer a large number of immediate opportunities.

“Of course,” Whitten agreed, “we can’t do this all by ourselves. We will need allies and supporters throughout the US swimming community – including USA Swimming, US Masters Swimming, ASCA, alumni groups and sympathetic media – and we must work in tandem with the coaches organizations of other threatened Olympic sports and such valuable organizations as the NCAA and the College Sports Council."

“It’s ironic, Whitten remarked, “that swimming – far and away the USA’s most successful sport at the modern Olympic Games since 1896 – would be earmarked for cutting so often.

“The irony is compounded,” he added, “by the fact that at almost every college and university, swimmers almost always are among the top performing athletes in the classroom. More often than not, they rank number one among each school’s athletic teams and easily out-perform the non-athletes.

“For example, in July the Rutgers University web site headlined the men’s and women’s swim teams. Why? Both teams had earned Academic All-America team honors, the first time any Rutgers sport had achieved that distinction.

“The very next day, the school’s Athletic Director announced he would be cutting five men’s teams, including swimming, and one women’s team.

“So much for Rutgers’ vaunted commitment to the ideal of the ‘student-athlete.’

“The hypocrisy goes even further,” Whitten said. “First off, the men’s and women’s swim teams are, arguably, the school’s most successful on the playing field. Secondly, the AD announced a set of guidelines used for cutting or retaining teams. But even a cursory examination reveals that the school then proceeded to ignore its own guidelines.

“Not only that, but there are better solutions – in terms of both budget and Title IX – than the one with which the university came up.

“On the national level, the irony is even more bittersweet,” Whitten noted. “At a time when this country is in the midst of a full-blown obesity pandemic – with all its potential for heart disease, diabetes and other diseases a few years down the line – schools are cutting the acknowledged best all-around sport for maintaining lifetime fitness.”

“What are they thinking?"

Taking Action
Whitten said the CSCAA will be making announcements over the next two months to fill all 40 newly-created committees and task forces. Coaches interested in volunteering their time, knowledge and passion should contact Whitten at: swimphil@aol.com, or (480) 628-5488

The Four CSCAA “Save Our Sport” Committees

1. The SOS: Save Our Sport Committee

CSCAA members with the following expertise needed:
a) Critique Whitten’s booklet for its revision this fall
b) Legal
c) Financial/fund-raising/endowing
d) Web site

2. The Crisis Team

Individuals with experience in
a) organizing,
b) strategizing
c) communication
d) fund-raising
e) an attorney to assist teams threatened with being cut on the local level

3. The Opportunity Team

This small group will identify, promote and assist in the creation of new collegiate swimming programs or the re-creation of former teams for both sexes. Among this committee’s task will be the creation of an “opportunity package.”

4. The Prospecting Team

The mission of this task force will be to identify colleges with the facilities (or potential facilities) and receptive administrations to starting new swim programs.

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