More than 20 Olympic athletes, including 10 gold medal winners, want Dartmouth College to bring back the men’s and women’s swimming teams eliminated this year because of COVID-19 financial losses.
“Dartmouth’s decision to eliminate these programs is a decision which falls short of the college’s high bar for leadership,” the letter sent Monday states. “This is particularly concerning when we consider the mounting social and cultural transformations confronting our nation, which requires strong leaders who listen to their communities. While the fiscal challenges facing the college are real, more effective administrative oversight would have engaged the swimming and diving community to develop solutions.”
Letter signers include 1969 Dartmouth graduate Charles P. Hodgson, who went on to become a noted swim coach and served as a USA Olympic Coach in 1984.
The letter states Dartmouth is rejecting the values needed to create well-rounded individuals when it cuts the swimming and dive teams, as well as men’s and women’s golf and men’s lightweight rowing. The eliminations will also encourage other colleges to cut sports teams, the letter states.
“And they will have national implications, setting a precedent for athletic programs at other institutions to undermine the value of collegiate sport,” the letter states.
Dartmouth’s Associate Vice President for Communication Diana Lawrence, declined to comment on Monday’s letter.
The letter is the latest salvo from the organization “Save Dartmouth Swim and Dive,” which has been sending open letters to the college, and lobbying U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to get involved in the issue.
Dartmouth announced the cuts in July as the college was projecting a $150 million loss. The school has also laid off dozens of staff members and instituted a salary and hiring freeze. Dartmouth did report a bright spot this fall, announcing its endowment has grown to $7 billion, a new record for the Ivy League school.