Saturday, June 17, 2017

Wayland Baptist Dumps Swim Programs


After four years as a competitive sport, the swimming and diving program at Wayland Baptist University has been discontinued. 

"After much examination and deliberation with athletic and university administration, we are making the difficult decision to immediately discontinue our swimming and diving program," WBU Athletics Director Rick Cooper said. "This has been a very difficult decision, but one we believe is both necessary and best at this point in time." 

The move comes on the heels of the resignation about a week earlier of swimming and diving coach Alyson Hannan, who is taking a position with the YMCA in Colorado Springs. Hannan had served as coach of the program since its inception for the 2013-14 academic year. Hannan's husband, James, served as an assistant coach for the Pioneers the past two years. He resigned several weeks ago for a position in computer software sales. 

Cooper said the reasons behind discontinuing swimming and diving were varied, but the most influential was the lack of an on-campus practice or competition pool/facility with no short- or long-term solution to alleviate that situation. 

The Pioneers trained at the Plainview YMCA, and the closest regulation pool for competition is the Pete Ragus Aquatics Center in Lubbock, where the Pioneers hosted only one of their 11 regular-season competitions this past season. 

"We want to thank the Plainview YMCA for its willingness and cooperation in allowing us to use their facility. Certainly their help was a great benefit," Cooper said. 

"The Y did a terrific job working with us to schedule practices, but we were unable to host any local competitions." 

Wayland was one of 25 men's programs and 29 women's programs within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to sponsor swimming and diving. The closest NAIA school to Wayland to host a program was St. Gregory's University in Shawnee, Okla., although SGU discontinued swimming and diving earlier this year. 

The Pioneer men finished in sixth place at the last two NAIA national competitions. The WBU women, after placing 10th a year ago, were ranked sixth this season but finished 19th after a roster reduction just prior to nationals. 

About her resignation, Hannan said it was an opportunity she couldn't pass up, both for career advancement and because the move gets her and James closer to family. 

Hannan developed seven all-Americans (top three finishers at nationals) at Wayland and was named American Swimming Coaches Association Coach of Excellence three times. 

"I'm very thankful for my time at Wayland and for everyone who took a chance on me and the program," Hannan said. 

WBU's swimming and diving program ended last season with 28 student-athletes. Cooper has informed those student-athletes that the university is honoring athletic scholarships for the 2017-18 academic year for those who want to continue their studies at WBU. Cooper added that the university will grant full releases to any affected student-athletes who wish to transfer and pursue other collegiate athletic opportunities.

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