Flash! Western Illinois Reinstates Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving

MACOMB, Illinois, June 29. WESTERN Illinois University Vice President for Student Services Dr. Garry Johnson and Assistant Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. Tim Van Alstine today announced that the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics will reinstate its men's and women's swimming and diving programs. It was announced on June 5, 2009 that the two programs were to be eliminated in an effort to balance the 2009-10 athletics department budget.

University officials understand that more significant restructuring is required to establish a long-term funding model that will support a competitive broad-based NCAA Division I athletics program. Further, Western Illinois University is committed to accommodating the interests and abilities of its student-athletes while making these restructuring decisions.

The men's and women's swimming and diving teams, which consisted of 23 student-athletes on partial scholarships in 2008-09, will continue competition at the Division I level this fall. A national search for a head coach will begin immediately.

"We are grateful for the Leatherneck swimming and diving family and the greater swimming community, who have provided input, assistance and financial support during this process," said Van Alstine. "It is very apparent, now more than ever, that the support for swimming and diving on a national scale is alive and well. Without that support we would not be able to continue our success in the pool and in the classroom."

Western Illinois has not eliminated a sport since 1985 when men's wrestling and women's field hockey were dropped. Women's soccer was added in 1997 and women's golf was added in 2001, bringing the total number of Division I sports programs to 20.

"We will go back to the drawing board and continue to look for creative ways to fund a broad-based, gender-neutral department at a competitive Division I level," Van Alstine continued. "(The decision to cut swimming and diving) was certainly not an easy one, and I am very happy for our swimming and diving student-athletes today."

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