Dear Mr. Tripathi,
We, the alumnae and friends of the University at Buffalo Swimming and Diving Team, are writing to express our dismay and betrayal upon learning of the termination of the University at Buffalo Men’s Swimming and Diving Program, effective Spring 2017.
Collectively, we have donated thousands of dollars to UB Swimming and Diving with the understanding that we were furthering a program that supported athletes like us, swimmers and divers who devoted years to developing the ability to compete at the collegiate level. We believed in UB’s continued support of a program that pushed us to excel both athletically and academically. We acted upon these beliefs most recently by financially supporting UB’s fund drive to update the starting blocks in the natatorium. We believed that we were doing our part to continue to raise the caliber of the University’s swimming and diving program.
We were misled by you, as it turns out, because you made the decision to cut the men’s swimming and diving program months if not years prior to 2017. You and other university officials knowingly allowed the Starting Block Campaign, Sanford Lounge Campaign, and ongoing solicitations from loyal and repeat donors, to continue, and in fact heavily promoted such, in spite of the fact that you planned to reduce the swimming and diving program by half.
Naturally, we are concerned for those members of the men’s swimming and diving program whose college years have been upended by this short-sighted decision. Those young men could have been one of us. Like all athletes, swimmers and divers have a finite number of years to compete at an elite level. Your last-minute decision ensures that these young men will lose an entire season of competition at the peak of their athletic careers as recruiting opportunities for 2017-2018 have already concluded. You have done these men a giant disservice. They deserved better from the university that recruited them to a program it knew would be short-lived.
Our second concern is for the future growth of the UB’s swimming and diving program. When investing into upgrading the equipment at the natatorium, it was with the understanding that our funds would benefit both the women’s and men’s teams. As you know, swimming and diving teams are traditionally co-ed. Sharing the deck with the men’s team is the norm in our sport. How will this decision impact scheduling future meets? Whom will the women’s team compete against? Will other teams upend their meet schedules to send their women’s team one direction and their men’s another to accommodate the University at Buffalo’s lopsided swimming and diving team?
Your decision to terminate the men’s program has also dealt a heavy blow to the women’s team specifically. We take issue with the fact that you misled us into believing that we were investing in an athletic program that could continue to progress within Division I. Now, however, it is considerably less likely that this will occur as the swimming and diving team has half its previous potential. Recruiting for and maintaining a competitive Division I women’s swimming and diving team will be negatively impacted as athletes look to bigger, more stable programs within which to culminate their athletic careers. These athletes will rightly question the UB’s ability to provide them with a program substantial enough to develop and fine-tune their athletic skills. Our trust in UB has been betrayed. You have taken advantage of our generosity to promote a program you knew would not exist. Mr. Tripathi, please restore our trust in the university that we call our alma mater.
Given all that is at stake, the future athletic careers of the current men’s team, the future growth of the women’s swimming and diving program, and the trust of UB’s alumni, we ask that the University place its decision to terminate the men’s program on hold for two years. This immediate action will permit current and incoming athletes to continue training and competing and allow us to establish an alumni endowment plan or other financial solution to fully fund the men’s team. We are formally requesting an in-person meeting to discuss this and other options. Joel Shinofield, Executive Director, College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America, will be contacting your office within the next week to schedule an appointment.
Alumnae and Friends of University at Buffalo Swimming and Diving Team