Dartmouth Cuts Men’s, Women’s Swimming Programs; Coach ‘Completely Blindsided’

Photo Courtesy: Dartmouth Athletics

Dartmouth announced on Thursday that it will eliminate five varsity athletic, and several staff positions, including men’s and women’s swimming.

Dartmouth concluded the change would give school more flexibility in admissions, reducing the number of recruited athletes in incoming classes by 10%. The move also contributes to the steps Dartmouth is taking to address budget challenges, including a projected $150 million financial deficit brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to swimming, Dartmouth cut men’s and women’s golf, and men’s lightweight rowing, dropping to 30 the number of varsity teams. A total of about 110 student-athletes participate on these five teams.

Here are the swimmers:

“I can assure you that these decisions were made with great care and with the long-term interests of the learning experience provided by Dartmouth Athletics front and center,” President Philip J. Hanlon said in an email to faculty, students and staff.

President Hanlon’s decision came after extensive consultation with Harry Sheehy, director of athletics and recreation.

“Harry and I realize that on top of what has already been a uniquely challenging year, this is deeply disappointing news,” he wrote. “I remain fully committed to Dartmouth Athletics and am confident that the steps outlined here will make it a leaner but stronger program.”

Dartmouth swimming coach James F. Holder told Swimming World the decision was a jolting surprise.

“Completely blindsided by this decision,” he said. “Not sure if the college understands all the swimming and diving brings to the college and the community at large. It is a very disappointing decision by Phil Hanlon and Harry Sheehy.”

According to Dartmouth, the pandemic and the resulting financial challenges hastened the athletics decision, with the department—and all departments, divisions, and schools at Dartmouth—facing financial cutbacks to reduce the projected deficit by the end of the new fiscal year, in June 2021. Elimination of the teams, closing the country club, and an administrative restructuring underway in athletics are projected to save more than $2 million.

The teams will be suspended immediately and jobs for 15 staff, including eight coaching positions, will end, the school announced.

Hanlon wrote that “with 35 varsity teams and the smallest enrollment within the Ivy League, athletic recruitment at Dartmouth has begun to impact our ability to achieve the right balance between applicants who are accomplished in athletics and applicants who excel in other pursuits. To achieve greater flexibility in shaping the incoming class, I asked Harry to reduce the number of recruited athletes in each entering class by 10%.”

“This will maintain the strength of varsity athletics into the future, instead of diluting the talent and competitive experience of all teams. While the elimination of teams is the most painful option, I agree that this approach is in the best long-term interest of both athletics and Dartmouth.”

Four-year colleges have eliminated some 171 athletic teams because of budgetary cuts or school closures associated with the coronavirus pandemic (51 in Division I, 56 in Division II, 52 in Division III and 12 in NAIA). The list of aquatic sports dropped, based on research by the Associated Press, through July 8 (x-denotes school closure; y-effective in 2021):


  • Men’s swimming (3): y-Connecticut, East Carolina, Western Illinois.
  • Synchronized swimming (1): y-Stanford.
  • Women’s swimming (3): Boise State, East Carolina, Western Illinois.


  • Men’s swimming/diving (2): Tiffin, x-Urbana.
  • Women’s swimming/diving (2): Tiffin, x-Urbana.
  • Women’s water polo (1): Sonoma State.


  • Men’s swimming (1): UMass-Dartmouth.
    Women’s swimming (1): UMass-Dartmouth.


  1. Rebecca Maccaro

    This is insane. They have such a beautiful facility. They will lose prospects because of that.

    • avatar

      Yes the facility is beautiful and is used by the swim team to give back to the greater Hanover/Lebanon community through a week of annual swim
      lessons. To date this program has taught approximately 900 children to swim ….a life long skill. The team also has one of the highest team GPA’s on campus. Perhaps Hanlon/admissions didn’t consider the community service aspect of this team?

  2. Bob Perkins

    Ivy League just announced no Fall sports… what’s there to cut?
    As the saying goes, you find out a lot about an individual during difficult times… I think the same is true for universities.

    • Thomas G Trapp

      Bob Perkins the possibility exists that in January 2021 the Ivy League will let swimming have a 3 month season.

    • Bob Perkins

      Yes, but not for Dartmouth…

  3. Mike Mcgowan

    Programs are falling like dominos. Geez

  4. Barb Martin Binkley

    Why does it need to be cut….just put it on hold for the fall and wait to see what happens.

  5. Teri Spinelli Blewett

    So awful, why can’t the Ivy League figure out how to protect the student athlete from these cuts ?

    • avatar

      I don’t thing the coaches even know as their job got cut too:((

    • Rob Richardson

      Katherine Karaconstantis LaLime it gives them a reason

  6. Ken Holland

    And the athletic dept GPA just got flushed…..?

    • avatar
      CT Schultz

      For sure!! Swimmers are organized and focused and generally have excellent GPA’s!!

  7. Cynthia Tudor Patrick

    And with that at Dartmouth which of the Other Ivy Schools will use this as an easy excuse.

  8. Angela Small Bancroft

    My college swim team was life changing. And they are still my best friends. 30 years later. So so sad for these students.

  9. avatar

    Dartmouth has a $5.7 Billion endowment and they feel the need to cut swimming.

  10. Doug Mauter

    Dartmouth has 5.37 BILLION in their endowment. I think they could have kept the swim teams.

    • Rob Richardson

      Doug Mauter I had the same comment about recent Stanford program cuts. As it has been proven at ASU, it is all about priorities. It is a drop in the bucket from the football program to fund swimming! If the AD wants to keep Olympic sports then the Athletic Department will find a way to make it happen.

  11. Jonathan Ballard

    Sad for those Ivy League swimmers. I would have never been accepted there.

  12. Robin Carey

    These schools are using covid as an excuse to cut programs they wanted to cut for ages. Cutting swimming isn’t going to fix the deficit running their ‘big-time’ programs created. They have huge money in their hedge fund, I mean, endowment. They don’t need to cut swim, they want to.

  13. Christin Bolte-Benton

    I think we need to start looking at these Athletic directors and how they’re spending money. This is Ridiculous!

  14. Matthew Lowe

    Looking at this with interest from the UK. I would love to see some of our kids come to the US as I love watching NCAAs every year. This is sad news ?

  15. John McCormack

    When asked for comment a spokesperson for USA Swimming said…. nothing, as usual…

  16. Irene Barber Kinsey

    I think there needs to be an overhaul of the university system as a whole. A lot of these universities receive public funds or federal research grants.

  17. Michele Snyder-Willis

    My sons best friend just finished his freshman year here and swam.. it’s devastating

  18. Kim Weinstein Hubric

    Not. Cool. Bring it back! Swimmers are incredible athletes and typically very strong academically.?

  19. Linda Martin

    How does anyone get their head wrapped around this one they’re cutting a sport

  20. Debbie Cutcher

    My child is a sophomore in high school. At this rate there will be no colleges swim tens left for him

  21. This is not ok. These schools have huge endowments and charge students ridiculous amounts of money to attend. I think they can stick it out for a couple years.

  22. Jim Bowser

    Ooooooh noooooooooooooo, it is a very important program. Dartmouth had one of the few diving towers in the East.

  23. avatar
    Dartmouth Swimmer

    Follow and share save_dartmouthswimdive on instagram to help and look out for a petition coming soon!

  24. avatar
    Will Cann

    This is not about funding. The Univ Pres indicates he felt basically that, being a small college with 35 varsity teams, recruited athletes were over represented in the student body. He wants to reshape the student body and swim teams and teams with poor records are easy targets. Why not increase size of student body to make room for kids with other talents ? Online learning will likely be part of higher education moving forward and increasing access to elite school oks will likely be the norm