Supporters of Wright State University’s swimming and diving program have hired a consultant to try to save the teams.
Last June, WSU announced that it would cut the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams as part of more than $30.8 million budget cuts. But, the teams narrowly avoided budget cuts for one year after they raised $85,000 to keep them afloat for one final season.
Then the university announced in October that it would “not allocate further funding or accept additional external funding to operate the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams after this season.”
Philip Walotsky, a consultant working with a group of WSU swimming alumni and families of student athletes, said that a letter signed by several student athletes and their peers will be presented to president Cheryl Schrader at the board of trustees on Friday. A draft of the letter obtained by this news organization states that the teams have been unable to secure a meeting with Schrader to discuss the program and why its being cut.
By eliminating the teams, the school estimated it would save around $500,000 in scholarships, salaries, team budgets, travel and facility maintenance. Despite those claims, the letter states that supporters believe that cutting the programs would actually eliminate around $250,000 in revenue.
“It is concerning to all student-athletes that a successful, profitable athletic program can be canceled so easily and without thorough vetting and review,” the letter states. “We respectfully ask you to take the time to allow our fellow student-athletes to present to you their analysis. We thank you in advance for your attention to this issue.”
The group of supporters reached out to Schrader for a meeting but did not hear back until a story about their request was published online by this news organization on Wednesday. The timing of Schrader’s response was a coincidence, as it had been in the works since Feb. 1, spokesman Seth Bauguess said.
In the letter, Schrader told supporters of the teams that the program’s revenue did not outweigh its costs. Upon arriving at Wright State in July, Schrader tried to find a way for the teams to continue but because of the need to shave more money from the budget, she said she was unable to.
Wright State is trying to boost reserves by $6 million this year and in the letter Schrader said “further reductions of at least $7 million” will be needed next fiscal year, which starts on July 1.
“I know this is not what you wanted to hear, and this is certainly not what I would wish for this outstanding program and our dedicated student athletes,” Schrader wrote. “But this is the harsh reality where we find ourselves today.”