La Salle Eliminates Men’s Swimming; Cut Programs Up to Seven This Year

Elwanda Tulloch

La Salle University became the seventh Division I school this offseason to cut its swimming and diving program, as the school announced Tuesday that is is cutting its men’s program among seven sports at the conclusion of academic year. La Salle will also cut baseball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s […]

La Salle University became the seventh Division I school this offseason to cut its swimming and diving program, as the school announced Tuesday that is is cutting its men’s program among seven sports at the conclusion of academic year.

La Salle will also cut baseball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s water polo, softball and women’s volleyball, bringing the school’s total varsity offerings from 25 to 18. These programs will compete during this 2020-21 season, if conditions permit. La Salle’s women’s swimming and diving and water polo teams will continue.

La Salle joins Division I schools East Carolina, Connecticut, Boise State, Dartmouth, Iowa and William & Mary in cutting swimming teams to ease the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

La Salle is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, and the men’s team finished fourth out of 11 teams at the 2020 conference championships. The Explorers last had an All-American on the men’s side with Ron Karnaugh in the 200 & 400 IM in 1986.

La Salle men’s swimming and diving is currently coached by interim head coach Sasha Malanina after the departure of Jamie Platt, as well as assistant coaches Frank Keefe and Emily Wolbert.

Full Letter from La Salle University Athletics:

We are writing to share difficult news: Today, the University’s Board of Trustees approved a recommendation to reduce the number of La Salle’s intercollegiate athletics teams from 25 to 18 at the conclusion of this academic year.

This action affects the following programs: baseball; men’s swimming and diving; men’s tennis; men’s water polo; softball; volleyball; and women’s tennis. These programs will compete during this academic year, assuming conditions permit and if it is deemed safe to do so. This action will provide a better overall experience for La Salle’s remaining student-athletes and create a more sustainable environment for the University’s athletics department. This measure better aligns us with members of the Atlantic 10 Conference, which—on average—sponsor 19 intercollegiate athletics teams. The NCAA average is 18 teams.

Simply put, La Salle Athletics cannot continue to sponsor 25 varsity sports at a competitive level. Sustaining an athletics department that offers more Atlantic 10-sponsored teams than any other in the conference at a university positioned in the conference’s bottom-quartile in enrollment is not feasible. The rising costs associated with providing a high-quality Division I student-athlete experience and the financial challenges incurred by the department contributed to this decision. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the need for this change.

It’s important to note that this is not a cost-cutting decision, but rather a strategic effort to reallocate our investment in a way that better aligns with our student-centered mission. The athletics department has been underfunded, and our facilities and our support staff have been spread thinly in supporting 25 programs. Properly funding these programs at the level that would sustain their competitiveness and the high-quality experience expected by our student-athletes would have required a financial commitment of at least $100 million in endowment, scholarship aid, and capital investment. This decision will allow us to reinvest existing resources and improve our ability to provide an exceptional student-athlete experience in a competitive, high-quality Division I program.

We know how disappointing this announcement is for members of our community. We acknowledge that there is never an ideal time to make such an announcement. Out of respect for our student-athletes, coaches, and staff members, it was important to make this announcement as early in the academic year as possible, as to allow these members of our community ample time to consider their next steps. In particular, doing so now grants our affected student-athletes an extended period to discuss their futures with their families. (As you know, our fall semester concludes Nov. 25, just before the Thanksgiving holiday.)

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