Swim team unlikely to return as funding is cut

The Bill Powell Natatorium will no longer be called home by the more than 50 student athletes of WKU’s Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving programs after President Gary Ransdell and Athletic Director Todd Stewart announced on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 that the programs will be suspended for the next five years effective immediately. This comes after a former swim team member, Collin Craig, filed complaints with the Bowling Green Police Department on January 6, 2015, sparking an investigation by both police and WKU Title IX coordinators. Nick Wagner/HERALD

Jeremy Chisenhall

WKU’s swim and dive program is set to have its suspension end in a couple years, but the program is unlikely to return due to the university’s ongoing budget concerns.

The program was suspended in 2015 after investigations by the Bowling Green Police Department and WKU’s Title IX Office into hazing, sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations. That suspension is set to end in 2020. But the athletics department is facing a budget cut just over $1 million from 2017-18 to 2018-19, according to the athletics narrative of the 2018-19 operating budget, which was approved by the WKU Board of Regents Friday. 

The WKU Budget Council recommended eliminating the budget for the men’s and women’s swim and dive teams, and that recommendation was approved by the university, a spokesperson from WKU athletics told the Herald Wednesday. 

The investigations by BGPD and the WKU Title IX Office began when Collin Craig, a former member of the team, filed a 10-page report with BGPD, according to previous reporting from the Herald. The report included allegations of forced consumption of alcohol and wrestling. 

The suspension happened during the tenure of former WKU President Gary Ransdell, who sent out a campus-wide email statement after the suspension was announced. 

“When students choose to participate in a formally recognized WKU organization, regardless of the nature of that organization, they become responsible for their actions, both as individuals and as a group,” Ransdell said in the email. “This University simply will not tolerate indecent, immoral, physical, or mental acts of disrespect or abuse among our students. We must all embrace a culture where every student is as important as any student.”

A budget deficit of nearly $30 million has caused WKU to cut funding university-wide. The athletics department’s cut is a 4.4 percent cut from their 2017-18 budget. Athletics’ 2017-18 budget was $23.6 million, while the 2018-19 budget allocates $22.6 million for athletics. 

Sports Editor Jeremy Chisenhall can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @JSChisenhall.