When freshman swimmer Katie Manzione first visited Oregon State University, she instantly felt at home. Not only did she love OSU’s academic programs, campus, and people, but she was also given the opportunity to become a Division One (D1) swimmer, meaning she would be participating in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s highest level of intercollegiate competitions. Manzione knew that by accepting the offer and becoming a D1 student-athlete, a plethora of doors would open for her.
Sadly, on March 4, all of those doors seemed to close when Manzione and her fellow teammates were informed via an email by OSU’s Vice President and Athletic Director, Scott Barnes, that the intercollegiate women’s swimming team would be discontinued. According to Barnes’ message, the decision was “based upon the university’s commitment to offer all student-athletes a quality, equitable and competitive NCAA experience in keeping with the Athletics Department’s strategic plan.” This was also stated in a press release forwarded to us in response to attempts at contact with Barnes, who was unavailable for comment
According to findings presented in the press release, OSU’s swimming facilitates were not up to NCAA standards. Building a new pool, plus maintenance for the facility, would cost $20 million. Thus, only ten programs for women’s sports remain, with no D1 opportunities for swimmers.
Manzione was completely shocked when told the news about the decision to discontinue intercollegiate women’s swimming. “No one saw it coming,” she said, “not even the coaches.”
Manzione’s teammates and the coaching staff were completely unprepared for the news, and the discontinuation of the program led Manzione to decide to transfer to a different school, where opportunities to pursue her academic goals and swim will be available.
Other teammates impacted include three international students, Amanda Hoejberg from Denmark, Arianna Letrari from Italy, and Kristina Schneider from Romania, who traveled thousands of miles from home to swim at OSU. These students gave no reply to our attempts at contact.
As for the future of swimming at Oregon State, Manzione explained that it’s quite vague to her and her teammates. OSU is lacking in facilities for swimmers, and the school’s decision to not spend money on upgrades is currently unwavering.
In better news, the athletic scholarships given to swimmers staying at OSU will be honored. Manzione explained, however, that Barnes has not informed the team whether or not they will still be allowed the perks of being a student-athlete, such as access to weight rooms and athletic advising centers on campus.
The decision to discontinue the program is not without victims. The coaching staff lost jobs they were likely passionate about, and student-athletes like Manzione lost an opportunity of a lifetime.
By Cara Nixon