A recent budget meeting at Western Kentucky University concluded in a $1.14 million reduction to the school’s athletics operating budget. The new budget was approved Friday by the Board of Regents and includes the elimination of all funds previously allocated to the WKU swimming and diving program.
The decision to disband the team comes roughly three years removed from a Title IX investigation that involved local police after former WKU swimmer Collin Craig alleged hazing, verbal and physical abuse, forced alcohol consumption and other violations within the program.
The investigation found the program in violation of policies regarding hazing, sexual harassment and assault, and it was placed under a five-year suspension in April 2015. The positions of head swimming coach, associate head swimming coach and head diving coach were eliminated in June 2015.
According to the Bowling Green Daily News, funding for the program was redirected toward cost of attendance for the duration of the program’s suspension after Craig and WKU reached a settlement in August 2016.
In May, WKU athletic director Todd Stewart was questioned about the future of the swimming and diving program. According to Stewart, the plan had always been to reevaluate the situation after three to three and a half years of the suspension had passed.
“We’re not really to that point yet but I would say that’s something we’ll have to sit down and discuss relatively soon in terms of where that goes in the future. I think we’ll have to make the decision by next summer. I don’t think we go into year five of the suspension not knowing what we’re going to do,” he said.
Following the recent budgeting decisions, the WKU swimming and diving program will not return to operation at the end of its suspension without a healthy influx of outside funds.