End of an era for Hurricane men’s swimming

For the last time, a male swimmer on the UM men’s swimming team jumped into the pool on Saturday, Feb. 8th.
After Athletic Director Paul Dee and the board of trustees decided to cut the men’s swimming and diving team due to Title IX requirements three years ago, both teams were temporarily reinstated.
Swim coach James Sweeney said the diving program has kept going on an unlimited basis, because “it has always been one of the best in the country.” Although the school allowed the swimmers to finish their careers, their team gradually faded out. Members on scholarships transferred, others quit and only one lonely fighter, Bjorn Boquist, stayed to the very end.
Since it was founded, UM’s swim program turned out 21 Olympians and 48 NCAA All -Americans. Legends like Jack Nelson, ’56 All-American and Olympian and ’76 coach of the Olympic women’s team, arose from it.
“It doesn’t make much sense to see a tradition like that disappear,” former team captain Tom Caplis said.
He still seeks ways to reinstate the team by keeping contact to coaches within the swimming community, raising awareness about Title IX problems through several news media and looking for donors to give enough money to endow the team.
“Many male athletes are being affected the same way we are here,” UM Diving coach Randy Ableman said. Title IX has always been a nationwide controversial issue. Its concept is simple, but to apply the rules at a university is not. In order to pass the three-part test of the Office for Civil Rights for Title IX, a school either has to provide gender proportionality in athletics, show a history and continuing practice of adding women’s sports, or accommodate athletic interests and abilities of women on campus fully and effectively.
Keeping equality between female and male athletes is more often a budgetary problem than just the demand to establish the correct gender proportionality. Spending scholarship money on men’s teams is usually higher than on women’s. Football and men’s basketball produce discrepancies that eventually have to be evened out by cutting scholarships for other male programs.
After all, Title IX still doesn’t provide a proper solution to meet students’ athletic demands if it has the power to eliminate one of the nations best swim teams.
“The way how the government interprets Title IX will have to change,” said Ableman. “I always hope that they will someday reinstate the swim team.”