Flash! Syracuse Swimming and Diving on Chopping Block

SYRACUSE, New York, May 31. THE Big East Conference looks to lose another swimming and diving institution as Syracuse University will cut both its men's and women's swimming and diving teams after this upcoming year, according to an article in The Post-Standard.

The article states that two sources informed the paper on Wednesday of the cuts, which will allow the school to start a women's ice hockey team in the place of swimming and diving.

Incredibly, the initial reports coming from The Post-Standard sources are at least demonstrating some honesty in the process, as opposed to the double-talk Big East conference-mate Rutgers has experienced from Robert Mulcahy during its men's swimming and diving cuts.

The article states that while initial sport cuts by Syracuse in 1997 were made for Title IX reasons, this time around finances are being noted as a strong reason behind the cuts. The reasoning is that for Syracuse to compete on a national level in swimming, it would have to make a serious investment in a new pool facility – a decision Syracuse does not want to make.

According to the article written by Mike Waters, "swimmers currently on scholarship will be able to remain at SU, which will honor their scholarship even after the 2007-08 season."

"It saddens me to learn of the decision to cut swimming at Syracuse University after more than ninety years of success and tradition," said Dale Neuberger, President of United States Aquatic Sports and former assistant coach at Syracuse from 1979-82. "I was an assistant coach at Syracuse for three years early in my career and had the opportunity to serve under Coaches Jon Buzzard and Lou Walker, both of whom are Syracuse alums and who have been the only head coaches of the program for almost fifty years — a remarkable achievement and evidence of program continuity.

"At that time in the late 1970's, there were four young coaches who had the chance to be a part of that remarkable program: John Leonard, the ASCA Executive Director, who has done more to advance coaching worldwide than anyone; Guy Edson, his key assistant at ASCA who has assisted countless young coaches in their professional development; Tim Welsh, men's coach at the University of Notre Dame and one of the most respected coaches in the country; and, me. The "Syracuse influence" has shaped all of us significantly," continued Neuberger.

"I pledge to be on the front line of trying to get this decision reconsidered, and ultimately, reversed," Neuberger stated. "This is too good of a program, in so many ways that matter, to allow it to die without the swimming community rallying behind the effort. That effort begins today for me."

"This is a decision that defies logic," said Phil Whitten, Executive Director of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. "To cut two teams in which there is a great deal of student interest and replace it with one team in which, even in the Northeast, there is minimal student interest makes no sense. While it is admirable that the athletic director (Daryl Gross) is interested in improving the school's performance in the NACDA Cup, what should be primary in his calculations are the student-athletes – not abstract points. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds."

"I swam at Syracuse and graduated in 1973," said Guy Edson, technical director of the American Swimming Coaches Association. "Jon Buzzard was the coach then. I just talked to him last week, and he already had news of this.

"Swimming there changed my life," Edson continued. "Swimming there wasn't about sport, it was about life. Swimming is a tradition at Syracuse. (Current head coach) Lou Walker swam with me. He was a year younger than me, and he has been there a long time. When I think about my experience during my time there, there was always an open office. Going to the pool to talk to Mr. Buzzard at any time of the day was a life saver for me. I had a family member die when I was a freshman, and I would not have gotten through it without that support. I loved to swim, but was a scrub swimmer back then. By the time I left, I was a school-record holder. It wasn't about that, though. It was the opportunity to have that environment where your coach cared more about you as a human being – the sport was a bonus.

"I imagine, knowing Lou, he has certainly taken that same role," Edson said. "Lou came through the same process. He had the experience through Mr. Buzzard like I did. To see Syracuse spending the types of money on basketball and football there, and to drop a sport that has been there since 1915 that isn't about sport, but about life, is a huge loss. I wouldn't be where I am today, not that I am great, without that Syracuse experience. It is one of those pass it on kinds of things with Syracuse swimmers."

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