Last week Syracuse University announced it was adding women's ice hockey and cutting men's and women's swimming and diving. The primary reason it seems is the substandard condition of the natatorium which would cost $35 million to rebuild. But SU administrators also acknowledge that the addition and the cuts will result in greater opportunities for female student athletes and will, in the 2008-2009 season when the hockey program begins, bring SU to substantial proportionality. Currently the university cites compliance with prong two, history and practice of expansion. And though the university added three sports between 1996 and 2000, a seven-year gap starts to look suspicious and weaken claims about commitment to expansion of opportunities.
It is unfortunate that the swimming program is being cut. It has a long history at the university and is much beloved by anyone who was ever involved. The loss will bring down to ten the number of teams in the 16-school Big East conference that sponsor intercollegiate swimming and diving.
Swimming has taken a lot of hits recently. University of New Hampshire, Rutgers, and JMU all cut their programs. And there has been a lot of talk about the loss of intercollegiate programs in the swimming community. SwimmingWorldMagazine.com frequently reports on the cuts and the efforts to save programs and has started a forum for discussing the Syracuse decision. So far, no Title IX backlash.