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bbpolhill
February 23rd, 2011, 05:16 PM
What role, if any, should USMS play in saving college swimming? How about USA Swimming? Are either currently doing anything about the shrinking base? What can they do?

Aside from the participants themselves (including coaches), both institutions seem to be the greatest benefactors of keeping college swimming around:

USA Swimming benefits because its membership believes it has the ability to earn a scholarship or admission to a college or university that they might not otherwise. They may continue in the sport when there is the belief that they may be rewarded down the road. Some may continue training for significant International competition while not losing time on their education by competing and training while in college.

US Masters Swimming benefits because they have a significantly larger recruitment base because of existing college swimming programs.

orca1946
February 23rd, 2011, 05:29 PM
I think that the cost is closing non money making programs. Can any of our swim programs help with this?

bbpolhill
February 23rd, 2011, 05:33 PM
I think that the cost is closing non money making programs. Can any of our swim programs help with this?

My apologies, but I'm not sure that I understand your comment. Can you expand your reply? I doubt whether any collegiate swimming programs make money.

Redbird Alum
February 24th, 2011, 01:43 PM
My apologies, but I'm not sure that I understand your comment. Can you expand your reply? I doubt whether any collegiate swimming programs make money.

I believe Orca's point is that the collegiate programs are being axed due to lack of funds. Most collegiate swimming programs do not bring in enough revenues to cover the costs of operating the pools, maintaining a coaching staff, travel expenses, insurance, any scholarships, etc.

USAS and USMS are not in the habit of handing out money to public and private universities, so what is left to do other than lobby state legislatures and private university boards to maintain funding?

bbpolhill
February 24th, 2011, 02:07 PM
so what is left to do other than lobby state legislatures and private university boards to maintain funding?

That's the essence of my question...what can be done, what is being done, etc. I am hoping to see some ideas. Maybe the answer is they are doing nothing and that they can do nothing, but maybe there is a creative solution out there too.

ALM
February 24th, 2011, 02:54 PM
Here is what one of our members did:

http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/4467.asp?q=Ron%20Neugent%27s%20Eloquent%20Testimon y%20Before%20Title%20IX%20Commission

Redbird Alum
February 24th, 2011, 04:02 PM
Here is what one of our members did:

http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/4467.asp?q=Ron%20Neugent%27s%20Eloquent%20Testimon y%20Before%20Title%20IX%20Commission

A good article. A good speech. Unfortunately, it did not sway the commission, nor the eventual elimination of further collegiate swimming teams, both men and women.

Perhaps USMS could approach colleges that lack collegiate swimming and create USMS teams on the campuses. However, it will be likely the schools may charge the teams fees, and require proof of indemnity.

Other than that, lobbying (like the well prepared speech in the article) appears about all USMS could do to reverse the trend.

EJB190
February 24th, 2011, 05:07 PM
I really think swimming is starting to dwindle many high schools as well. This probably isn't true for all of the country (probably not at all in places like FL and CA) but this is the problem I see in the Northeast.

None of the towns have the money to build or maintain pools. Lane rentals are atrociously expensive ($8,000 - $10,000 per lane, per season). Many of the divisions have 1-2 good teams and the rest suck. The teams that don't win get their funding cut. These are affluent towns too we're talking about. It's all the impoverished inner city schools that have the teams (numbers, but not usually skill) and the pools.

Even the divisions are folding. Teams end up competing with teams on the other side of the state, 1.5hrs away, in towns you've never heard of. I think this year my HS team actually had a couple out of state meets to find teams to compete with. Teams from schools with 600 students compete against schools with over 3,000 students.

Add on top of it a decreasing number of available swimmers. Most high school boys in the winter choose to play basketball, indoor track, hockey, wrestling, indoor soccer, box lacrosse, or spend their time skiing. New comers are turned away by the thought of having to wear a Speedo. I'm not even kidding. In high school I tried to get some of buddies to do it and they pulled out at the last minute because of the bathing suit :agree:.

The governing body also makes it, in my opinion, very difficult for towns to merge teams to boost numbers. If you get 3 kids from another town, they're not on the main team. They count as a 3 person team from the town they came from and get scored separately from the team they "joined".

Maybe Michael Phelps' success will bring attention back to the sport and inspire people to take up swimming again. I started competitive swimming around 6 years of age. I stopped in middle school because I didn't enjoy it. Looking back it was because none of my friends swam. Therefore I focused more of my time on Soccer and Lax, the sports my friends swam. When I returned to swimming in High School, I realized how much I really loved the sport, and met some of the greatest people I would have never met.

no200fly
February 24th, 2011, 05:17 PM
What role, if any, should USMS play in saving college swimming? How about USA Swimming? Are either currently doing anything about the shrinking base? What can they do?



When the kids call from my alma mater asking me for support I ask “do you have a swim team?” Usually they answer “yes” and I inform them that they have not had swimming since 1975. I tell them to call me back when they have swimming again. Although it’s not much, I feel I have done something.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
February 24th, 2011, 06:33 PM
Perhaps USMS could approach colleges that lack collegiate swimming and create USMS teams on the campuses. However, it will be likely the schools may charge the teams fees, and require proof of indemnity.

Wow - LOVE that idea Matt!

And this one from George Mason - 2nd half of clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz_CghLfRe4&feature=player_embedded

Also John Leonard from ASCA emailed this request to coaches last November:



Coaches, Please help by distributing the below to all your swim team families via email!

Many thanks!



John Leonard, ASCA


Help Preserve College Swimming for When YOU (or your child) Goes to College!

It’s no secret that college swimming has been “under the gun” due to college budget cuts in recent decades.

We want to let NCAA Division I Presidents/Chancellors and Athletic Directors know that there is a large, vibrant, energetic and committed swimming community in the USA that appreciates the fact that THEIR University has kept swimming alive and well at their institutions.

AND let them know that we want them to continue that support, and that our Children will consider attending Universities that allow them to continue their swimming excellence during their college years.

During the time period Nov. 15, 2010 through Dec. 30, 2010, won’t you take a few minutes and write a letter or send an email to the President and Athletic Director of the institution of your choice. (or more than one if you’d like!) and say THANK YOU for their support of swimming and let them know that the tuition dollars of you or your child will flow towards the institutions that keep swimming opportunities alive.

You can find the email and mailing addresses of EVERY NCAA Division I institution in the country on the American Swimming Coaches Association website at
(https://www.swimmingcoach.org/ad_addresses.htm)
https://www.swimmingcoach.org/ad_addresses.htm

Letters from young swimmers are particularly appreciated! How about your swimmer (s) sits down today and does something to preserve their own future opportunities?

All the Best,

John Leonard,

American Swimming Coaches Association.


The American Swimming Coaches Association
Phone: 800-356-2722
Fax: 954-563-9813

JimRude
February 24th, 2011, 06:58 PM
My :2cents::

Outside of a few states or regions, college and high school swimming are doomed. Why? With budgets tight everywhere, it is an easy "discretionary" cut to make - and even I would advocate for keeping two math teachers over the school [fill in favorite sport] team.

For the major colleges, the football boosters are strong enough to ensure that the big sports stick around. But I fear for all of the minor sports, whether they disappear because they don't generate enough revenue, because the facilities are too expensive to maintain, Title IX, etc etc.

Swimming is actually a sport that will probably suffer less than others - club swimming has a strong tradition in this country, and so college age athletes will simply train with the local club near their school. Other sports - which may have a weaker "club" structure - may be in worse shape.

The challenge for clubs will be their business model. Again, with local finances strained, and apparently no appetite for voters to support much beyond tax cuts, clubs will find their local pools under threat of closure. Time to figure out how to take over operations from the local city or parks & rec department, and run the pool "profitably" themselves!

Ahelee Sue Osborn
February 24th, 2011, 07:32 PM
My :2cents::
Swimming is actually a sport that will probably suffer less than others - club swimming has a strong tradition in this country, and so college age athletes will simply train with the local club near their school. Other sports - which may have a weaker "club" structure - may be in worse shape.

The challenge for clubs will be their business model.
Time to figure out how to take over operations from the local city or parks & rec department, and run the pool "profitably" themselves!

"athletes will simply train with the local club near their school."

I could see that helping the situation quite a bit.
No doubt lots of rules would have to be changed and coaching egos mellowed...
Swimming may not have many other options.

james lucas
February 26th, 2011, 04:02 PM
While everyone here has a passionate interest in swimming, the defense of swimming needs to be mindful of the larger context.

College swimming is supported by colleges, and colleges are facing the kind of trouble that only can be created by a large group of apparently smart people. Here's a good summary of some of the problems they face:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/11/AR2011021104924.html

In partcular, Part 7 observes:



Critics say the top division of the nonprofit National Collegiate Athletic Association (http://www.ncaa.org/) increasingly resembles for-profit entertainment, with million-dollar coaches and ever-lengthening seasons. Some schools have only a small percentage of students engaged in athletics, and athletes only nominally engaged in education.

"You're not providing students with the opportunity to play sports. You're bringing students in to pay money to watch sports," said Margaret Miller, a professor in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Virginia.

Ninety-seven schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision spent an average $84,446 per athlete on their athletic programs in 2008, while spending $13,349 per student on academics, according to a 2010 report (http://www.knightcommission.org/images/restoringbalance/KCIA_Report_F.pdf) by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Excuse me? $84,446 per athlete? Versus $13K for an academic student? At these rates, athletics start to look like the parasites that threaten to kill an already weakened host. If the rationale for perserving swimming is to perserve scholarships, then those kinds of numbers seem to make that rationale unattainable if not unreasonable. Rather, college and high school swimming presents its most compelling "value proposition" to the degree it can give more kids an opportunity to participate rather than watch, and to the degree it can be thrifty. Maybe that's why swimming teams are being cut at a faster rate at Division I schools than at Division III schools.

stillwater
February 26th, 2011, 04:25 PM
Remove scholarships from all sports. Pay coaches professor wages. All TV revenue above program costs go into class room instruction. Students who don't have a B average can't compete.

Colleges shouldn't be in the sports business.

Ok,that won't fly.

Accept that greed from football lunkheads will doom swimming.

norascats
February 26th, 2011, 07:38 PM
College sports should be part of a well rounded university education. Students should be encouraged to become proficient in several sports. Competition should be part of this education. It should not be considered for it's money making ability. Professional athletes should not be brought in to enhance a college's image.
Sorry, I'm an old fashioned thinker.

gigi
February 26th, 2011, 11:11 PM
These are affluent towns too we're talking about. It's all the impoverished inner city schools that have the teams (numbers, but not usually skill) and the pools.



As a teacher in an "impoverished inner city school" I find that laughable. Where do impoverished city schools get the money to maintain pools? Doesn't impoverished mean "without money"? My city has shut down every single public pool and our one high school pool was shut down years ago due to at least a decade's worth of deferred maintenance finally coming home to roost. Maybe CT is different from MA.

Chris Stevenson
February 27th, 2011, 09:05 AM
College swimming is supported by colleges, and colleges are facing the kind of trouble that only can be created by a large group of apparently smart people. Here's a good summary of some of the problems they face:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/11/AR2011021104924.html

Ignoring the standard lazy anti-intellectual gibe, I found the article was interesting though oversimplifying in some ways (which is to be expected in a short newspaper article, of course). I agree with many of the sentiments in section 7, though I don't know if a cap would be a good solution. I have said before in other threads on this forum that (IMO) college athletics as it currently practiced is at odds with the institutional mission of universities. Especially big-time college athletics.

I definitely think that athletics have a place on college campuses. I just don't think their role should be any more prominent (or subsidized) than, say, that of the visual and performing arts. Universities should use athletic fees to improve (and increase access to) facilities that are available to all students: better gyms and pools, intramural sports, etc etc.

Big-time college athletics bear a large portion of the blame for the current situation. The NBA and NFL treat NCAA athletics as a de facto minor league, rather than developing their own. College presidents, administrators and fund-raisers are entranced by the additional exposure and revenue that successful athletic programs bring.

College swimming is such a minor player in this; cutting those programs will not solve any problems. Larger institutional reform is needed and I don't see it happening anytime soon.

Getting back to the original question: I don't know that USMS would make much of a difference at all in saving varsity college swimming. And think about this: while varsity swimming is shrinking, club college swimming appears to be growing to fill the void. Aren't the motivations of the participants of club swimming more closely aligned with those of USMS members? Shouldn't we be looking to increase our exposure with that crowd? They aren't "serious" swimmers by the standards of varsity athletes, but they are probably also much less likely to suffer from burnout and possibly head straight into USMS.

Let USA-Swimming get involved in the fight to save varsity swim teams; they have more of a dog in that fight. I think USMS would do better to target university club programs: we would get better bang for our buck, and there are certainly plenty of challenges in doing that (most club swimmers I know are much more interested in fraternizing with, and competing against, other college club swimmers rather than the typical masters swimmer).

Just my :2cents:

gobears
February 27th, 2011, 10:30 AM
I agree, Chris. And, like you said on another thread about scholarships and universities, I have to agree there too. Although I benefitted from an athletic scholarship I have more and more reason to question whether an academic institution is serving its own or its students' best interests by focusing so much on athletics. The situation with football has gotten entirely out of hand.

I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine about whether some Division II or III schools may be offering a better education than Division I schools nowadays since they aren't as corrupted by big time athletic money.

hofffam
March 1st, 2011, 06:15 PM
At some point I wonder when college football and men's basketball come crashing down. The University of Texas athletic department is the worst (or is it best?) offender in the escalation of money spent, and money generated. UTexas athletic department had over $145M in revenue last year. That could be a wonderful thing to have so much money. But UT leads the nation in spending on college football. When I was a student in the old SWC (Texas A&M), OU, Texas Tech, Rice, etc. all had men's and women's swim teams. Now in the Big 12 only three schools have men's swimming (six women's programs).

The problem is that schools like Texas Tech and OU devote a greater percentage of their budget to football - to keep up with UT. Both are large public schools, but have relatively few other sports. Tech only funds six men's sports (I count cross country and track as one) and only seven women's sports. Tech doesn't have the alumni base, nor TV draw, to generate signficantly more revenue.

UT acts without any regard to anyone else. They now have their own TV channel with ESPN - so their revenue will go up again. They'll pay Mack Brown even more than his $5M salary today. The continue to push spending up in all areas, and the schools that want to play football are under even greater pressure.

I am a capitalist at heart - so I understand the idea that UT is acting in its own best interests and doesn't really care if other schools suffer. But the NCAA is sitting around watching all the money roll in and is doing nothing to make college sports more accessible instead of less.

I much prefer college football to pro - but when it costs $75 or more just for a college game ticket, I lose interest quickly in going to the stadium. As a student in the late 70s an A&M game ticket cost me $15 - very affordable then. I was only paying for myself. But to take my family to a college game now it costs half a thousand with tickets and food. It is worth it only occasionally.

If I were a billionaire, I would not give any money to football. I might endow the swimming program for 20 years, but football wouldn't get a dime.