View Full Version : SwimNews.com - Ohio Joins Swimming Deserters
26-01-2007, 11:40 AM
Ohio University is the latest US college to ditch its swim programme
Such a shame.
It's pure economics (with a good dash of greed). I preface my comments by saying American universities are more free market & therefore expensive, even government supported ones such as OU. It isn't so different from the recent debates about supplemental tuition payments at Oxford or Cambridge.
What the article fails to mention is that football is an income generator... income that far exceeds what they are paying the coach ($20 per ticket x 20,000 tickets x 12 games). Football is a more popular sport. The $60k for swimming is paltry by comparison, but swimming competitions generate zero revenue, fewer alumnai willing to shell out money, no TV coverage (school promotion), etc. But $60k off the bottom line makes a visible, if smallish, difference. It seems only the largest programmes that produce many Olympic swimmers (OU not being one of them) will survive. Not fair to swimmers who swim for the love of the sport & good competition outside the most elite.
I by no means agree with this trend, merely state one reason it is happening.
28-01-2007, 03:28 AM
It's actually far more complex than that. First, only about the top 50-60 university American football programs in the country run any sort of budget surplus. Ohio State University (and places like Arizona, Florida, Miami, Michigan, pretty much any of the Southeastern Conference, Big 10, and Pac 10 schools) are those kinds of programs. Ohio University is what's known as a Mid Major- a program beyond that top tier. At most, the Mid Majors will run small surpluses of less than $1 million every year. Some of the Mid Majors will operate millions of dollars in the red. But it's seen as important for many schools to have big time or semi-big time football even if it's a horrific financial loss for the athletic department.
Men's basketball is the huge budget surplus across the board- only a dozen or so players compared to football's 80+ man rosters, and the television contract rights for men's b'ball are very, very lucrative.
So you get a lot of schools chosing to eliminate 'minor sports' like swimming, track, gold, and tennis because they don't have a big name football program that covers its own expenses and leeches money away from the general athletics.
Part 2 has to do with gender equity. Law here says that college students must have equal opportunities and equal treatment to all programs and activtiies at the school regardless of gender. How it's played out in the courts is that the law is interpreted to say that the gender split among student athletes must more or less match the gender split among students as a whole. So if your student body is 60-65% female (pretty common at a certain type of university) then 60-65% of your student athletes should be female as well.
And football horribly skews the numbers because you've got 80+ men on the roster. Now you're an athletic director at a school where the student body is split 50/50, and you need to balance the numbers somehow, and your women's volleyball team (men's volleyball teams are very uncommon here) only gets you an additional 12-15 women's slots. You're still looking at having 60 men too many to make it balance out. The common additive solution is to add varsity women's crew. It's a big roster sport and it's easy to recruit since you can teach that skill set to reasonably athletic 18 year old women with no background in the sport, unlike something like gymnastics, where if you don't start by age 5, you're toast. But crew/rowing has high start up costs (My sister rowed for Georgetown. I know what even a not gently used resale boat goes for) and not every school has access to an appropriate body of water for a course.
So option two is to cut additional men's programs in order to have the numbers balance out, so it's common for even schools with very high revenue/surplus football programs like Nebraska to drop swimming, wrestling, golf, and tennis in order to make the numbers work out.
I just wish they'd reduce the football rosters instead. Most high schools have 50 men or so on the roster. Professional teams have something like 47 person roster caps. The college game doesn't need 80-90 person rosters. Cut that sport down to 50 man rosters, and you can preserve not only the men's swim team, but also men's cross country and golf as well, and still have gender balance under the law.
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