Tuesday, November 10, 2009

UCI Swim Team: The Last Breath of Hope

The question that comes into play: now that it’s cut, how do we bring it back? Founded by a group of alumni, parents and athletes, the UCI Swimming and Diving Foundation was the last chance to keep discontinued aquatic teams alive.

Question: What is the function of the UCI Swimming and Diving foundation?

A: The UCI Swimming and Diving foundation is a non-profit group that was created in response to the swimming and diving program being cut at UCI. Their goal was to raise enough money to have the swim team reinstated by the university. However, the university challenged the swim team with the daunting task to raise around 2.2 million dollars in order to be reinstated. Yet, in actuality it only cost $150,000 to operate for one academic year.

Question: Who’s in charge of it and how is it run?

A: Jeff Hokinson, UCI Swimming Alumni is the President of the foundation. He stresses the importance of keeping the team for multiple reasons. First being, the great success of the program a Woman’s Big West title in 2005 and a Men’s title in 2007. Not only that, Hokinson emphasizes that many successful national level swimmers such as Chelsea Nagata, Lyndsay DePaul, and Eddi Erazo have come from the UCI swimming program. Jeff Hokinson was actively running this program during the Summer 2009 and into the September of 2009 until word from UCI’s administration broke that a reinstatement of the swim team will no longer occur. Hokinson’s foundation was dependent on receiving small donations anywhere from $20-200 and many speculated that since UCI has the only NCAA swim team in Orange County a rich donor would be a likely show. Yet, no wealthy individual was able to bailout swim team through its financial hardship. The organization received a good portion of its donations through t-shirt sales, which racked in about a quarter of all donations.

Question: How much does it actually cost to the run the swim program?

A: According to posts made by Jeff Hokinson in the Anteater Swimming and Diving Foundation group it would only cost $42,500 to operate the team for one year. According to Hokinson he was able to reduce the cost by having the UCI swim team by having an agreement from other universities in the Big West league to travel to UCI. In addition, head coach Brian Pajer agreed that if the team were reinstated, he would not take a salary. Despite these incentives to keep the team, and what Jeff Hokinson calls a “45-year old tradition”, the Athletic director stood by his position.

Question: Was it worth cutting the team from the UCI’s administrative standpoint?

A: Mike Izzi, UCI director of intercollegiate athletics, stated that UCI would be saving around one million dollars per year by cutting the program along with rowing. Yet, the school demands that the athletes raise 2.2 million dollars to operate the program for the next 8-10 years. From an administrative standpoint, it was worth cutting the swimming and diving because they drew absolutely no revenue for the university. The popularity of the sport was a major factor in the decision making process, because it won’t be as missed as the other sports. However, now other Southern California swimming programs grow stronger without the existence of a UCI program, because Orange County is known as a hotbed for producing many talented swimmers. By giving up their stake in the Big West league it looks unlikely that the program can ever come back.

1 comment:

  1. They should change the name from UCI to UC BUTT TOWN