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Students hold WKU swimming & diving interest meeting

Eli Randolph
Jaden Marshall, a freshman Broadcasting major, leads the WKU Swim and Dive interest meeting on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. “I don’t believe in not trying, I believe in dreams,” Marshall said. Despite the meeting having low attendance Marshall was enthusiastic.

Jaden Marshall, a freshman broadcasting major, and Zacherie Coleman, a freshman electrical engineering major, hosted an interest meeting to bring back the swimming & diving team to WKU on Wednesday, April 24. 

In 2015, the swimming & diving team was suspended for five years due to violations of WKU’s student code of conduct and evidence from sexual misconduct against former athletes. In 2020, the program lost its funding and was cut from WKU Athletics. 

“Because of what happened in 2015, I believe we have to wipe the slate clean… We have to bring this to athletics and we have to say ‘okay, we understand this happened, we should get the team back because of this, and this is what’s going to happen,’” Marshall said. 

Even with low attendance, Marshall and Coleman were adamant about hosting the meeting and spreading the word about wanting swimming & diving back on the Hill. 

“I don’t believe in not trying. I believe in following your passions and this is something that I’ve been incredibly, incredibly passionate about ever since I’ve come to this campus,” Marshall said. “I don’t know how much student support we’re gonna get tonight, but I’ve talked to a lot of students around campus… they’ve told me that they would love for the swim team to come back.” 

Coleman, who is in charge of the financial aspects and financial support for bringing back the swim team said, “I know today is gonna not do a drastic change and all, but I know this will be a little step towards getting input.” 

Marshall and Coleman have been in contact through email with WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart. 

“Right now, it’s not in the cards to bring the swim team back. When I asked him [Stewart] about what the budget will look like or if it’s possible to fundraise, he [Stewart] said it would take a $1 million budget annually to fund the team,” Marshall said.

Some of the fundraising plans include team sponsors, car washes, swimming lessons and pool days. 

Marshall said he takes Stewart’s words with “respect and honor” and plans to persuade WKU Athletics to bring back swimming & diving. 

In attendance were four prospective students, Ron Finley, 1977-1981 swim alum, and Clay Smalley, 1976-1980 WKU alumn who taught water aerobics conditioning for the swimming & diving team. 

It was advertised that Bill Powell, who coached swimming & diving from 1969-2005 and had 35 consecutive winning seasons, was to attend the meeting but was not in attendance. 

Finley, who swam backstroke and freestyle for the team said, “it will be good for the school to bring swimming back and will bring back a lot of revenue.” 

When asked Finley’s thoughts about the sexual misconduct in 2015, Finley declined to answer. 

Smalley showed that he was very supportive of Marshall’s and Coleman’s decision to bring awareness to the swimming & diving team. 

“We need to make some phone calls and contact people and tell them we got kids interested in swimming,” Smalley said. “We have a lot of people who are interested in different sports, whether it’s basketball, football, softball and baseball. Everybody can’t be a basketball player and can’t be a football player.”

Looking forward to the next academic year, Marshall, Coleman and Smalley plan to host weekly meetings to discuss how they can begin the process to raise awareness and funds for the team. 

“I understand that this process may take years, but I believe in starting somewhere and that was my entire goal,” Marshall said.

Anyone interested in learning more or becoming involved in the process to bring back WKU swimming & diving can contact Marshall at [email protected].

Sports Reporter Ty Killen can be reached at [email protected]

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