On September 3rd, the seven affected programs were guided to a Zoom call that ultimately lasted six minutes. All programs were to be discontinued after the 20-21 season. There was no space for an explanation, no Q & A, and the decision was declared final. The Tribe Swim family is deeply upset, saddened, and angry about this decision. To put it plainly, we want our programs reinstated, and we believe that together we can make that happen.
Tribe swimming and diving has a rich 93-year history on the William & Mary campus. Hundreds of dedicated men and women have helped shape Tribe Swimming into what it is today. In recent years, the team has risen to new heights. The team has captured 9 CAA championships in the past 13 seasons, including 6 consecutive titles for the men. In addition, All-American Colin Wright finished the 2020 season ranked 4th in the country in the 50 freestyle with the fastest time in Virginia history.
In the classroom, W&M swimmers have produced 10 Phi Beta Kappa inductees, 1 Rhodes Scholar, 2 all sport CAA scholar-athletes of the year, and is consistently one of the William & Mary sports with the highest level of Provost Award recipients.
In the community, the swim team donates between $10,000-$15,000 each year to the American Cancer Society, gives 180 hours of community service each year to the Kiwanis Shrimp Feast, volunteers with the Williamsburg Special Olympics, and works with Camp Kesem at William & Mary.
The William & Mary swim team has accomplished all of this while also maintaining an astonishing 90% retention rate since 2013. To put it simply, our swimmers are fast, successful, care about the community, and are truly happy to be members of the team. We believe that the decision to cut the swim team not only affects those directly involved, but also the greater William & Mary community as a whole.
Facts to address
The 2025 strategic plan states that a successful athletics program will "persevere through adversity with confidence."
This is a perfect example of the athletic department refusing to practice what they preach. Instead of finding creative and resourceful solutions that could have prevented a situation like this, they took the easy way out.
The athletic department blindsided these student-athletes
This decision seemed to come out of nowhere without any warning to the team. Meetings with administration in October 2019 and June 2020 gave the impression that swimming was not in a position to be cut. Even worse, the decision came after students were already on campus and tuition had been paid.
Tribe Swimming's endowment and fundraising efforts cover a large portion of the operating costs for the team
The current market value of all swimming-related endowments is approximately $3 million. Annual giving is at an all-time high ($192,000 for FY 2019). With annual operating costs of roughly $450,000-$500,000, it's completely realistic that Tribe Swimming could eventually fully cover all operating costs without assistance from the athletic department.
Our facilities can, and do, provide everything we need to be a nationally-competitive program
Our lack of a 50 meter pool is not a reason to cut the program. We've shown time and time again that we can make the most of what we have and still be competitive on a national level.
The program is more successful than ever
9 CAA championships. 13 Olympic Trials qualifiers. The 4th ranked 50 freestyler in the country in 2020. Tribe Swimming is a program that has continually defied expectations and maintained a high level of excellence. If the athletic department truly values results, this decision needs to be overturned.
If you also disagree with this reckless decision, click below to learn how you can get involved.