William & Mary to Cut Swimming & Diving After 2020-21 Season

William & Mary University made the decision to cut men’s and women’s swimming & diving, among five other sports, after the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced in a letter on Thursday. The school will also be cutting Men’s and Women’s Gymnastics; Men’s Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field; and […]

William & Mary University made the decision to cut men’s and women’s swimming & diving, among five other sports, after the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced in a letter on Thursday. The school will also be cutting Men’s and Women’s Gymnastics; Men’s Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field; and Women’s Volleyball.

“So many of us who work in intercollegiate athletics do so with a singular purpose: to impact the lives of our student-athletes,” Athletic Director Samantha K. Huge said in a statement. “On most every other day, we are working tirelessly to enhance their experience at William & Mary, and that is why today is so difficult to know that our decision — while necessary — is devastating for our students.

“As a department, we simply can no longer continue on an unsustainable financial trajectory. We will do everything that we can for the impacted student-athletes and coaches, and I sincerely hope they are able to participate in one final season of competition. Today is a sad day for all of us who love William & Mary.”

The university pledged to honor all current athletic scholarships of those affected through their scheduled graduation at William & Mary, according to the release. Those wishing to transfer will have the full support of the university.

Impacted coaches will be able to complete their current appointments.

118 student-athletes and 13 coaches have been affected by the decision as the school is estimating it will save $3.66 million.

William & Mary swimmers in 2014. Photo Courtesy: William and Mary Athletics

William & Mary men’s swimming has won six straight conference titles in the CAA, as this past season culminated with Colin Wright making the NCAA Championships in the 50, 100 & 200 freestyle, becoming the first William & Mary swimmer since 1963 to make the meet. On the women’s side, the Tribe finished second at this year’s CAA Championships as they last won the title in 2017.

This marks the sixth Division I school to lose its swimming and diving team this off-season, joining the likes of East Carolina, Connecticut, Boise State, Dartmouth and Iowa in getting their swim team cut to ease the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

William & Mary is coached by Nate Kellogg who had spent three years as an assistant before returning as head coach in the 2019 season. He helped coach Wright to a spot at the NCAAs this season as the sprinter was seeded fourth in the 50 free and eighth in the 100 free, and was seeded to put William & Mary in the top 25.

William & Mary men have not lost a CAA team title since 2014 as the program has really made a turn for the better at the start of the decade. Wright became the first male swimmer or diver since 1986 to make the NCAA meet and the Tribe have had eight swimmers qualify at the last two Olympic Trials including Katie RadloffAndrew Strait, Sidney Glass, Will Manion, Hailey HewittAnnie Jaimie Miller and Jeremiah O’Donnell.

Katie Radloff was also the last women’s swimmer to make the NCAA meet for the Tribe, making the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle all four years of her career from 2007 – 2010.

Excerpt from our story about Colin Wright’s history-making efforts for William & Mary:

Full story can be read here.

colin-wright

Colin Wright. Photo Courtesy: College of William & Mary

“After my freshmen season when I went 19.6 I had dropped about a second in the 50 from high school,” Colin Wright told Swimming World earlier this summer. “At that point I set a goal that I wanted to go 18 at the end of my senior year. I didn’t have a specific time – I just wanted an 18. I knew I could do it and I had my focus on that.

“I only started thinking a lot about my NCAA goals after my freshman year was successful. I really didn’t know what I was capable of in the sport until after that year. That was really what set the tone for the rest of my career.”

“He was laser focused and super consistent,” said William & Mary head coach Nate Kellogg, who had seen Wright’s development throughout his four years. “That’s the difference. He’s had this talent all along. I remember his first duel meet as a freshman – he was on our B 200 medley relay the first event. He split a 20.1 and all the coaches looked at each other like ‘wow, this guy has some talent.’ He has ridden that all the way.”

colin-wright

Colin Wright in a duel against George Washington. Photo Courtesy: College of William & Mary

Colin Wright was just an average swimmer out of high school, boasting a 20.73 best time in the 50 free and 45.61 in the 100 as a senior in 2016. William & Mary had been a successful mid-major Division I program, sending four swimmers to the last two Olympic Trials, and winning the last six CAA men’s team championships. But the program had not had an NCAA swimmer or diver on the men’s side in 34 years, and Wright finally changed that in 2020, putting William & Mary, a school that does not offer scholarships to men’s swimming, on the national map.

“It was a good year but unfortunately all the COVID took a lot away from it,” Kellogg said. “I feel so bad for Colin and the rest of the seniors, especially the ones that made it for the first time. That’s an experience they will never get to have and of course it is nobody’s fault but my heart goes out to those folks.”

“It gives the recruits some confidence in the school like you can make NCAAs going here and it can give the recruits more confidence in the coaches and the program,” Wright said. “It’s great and it gives us a little more attention.”

“Our program has been built on the foundation of elite academics as well as elite swimming and I think our swimming is hopefully starting to catch up to the level of academics that William & Mary provides,” Kellogg said. “It’s something we’ve talked to our team and recruits about all the time that you don’t have to give up world class academics for high level swimming and the other way around. You can swim at the highest level and still get world class William & Mary education.

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