The Cal State Northridge men’s and women’s swim teams were discontinued Monday afternoon by the athletic department due to the ongoing statewide financial crisis.
Rick Mazzuto, the athletic director at CSUN, said he was asked by the CFO Tom McCain to lead the project and started working on the matter back in mid-December. Mazzuto said he resolved a solution with McCain and consulted with CSUN President Jolene Koester.
“What’s happening in athletics is in context to what’s happening in the state and at the university,” Mazzuto said.
Mazzuto said the decision to cut the swim teams had nothing to do with the season ending.
“We looked at this long and hard,” Mazzuto said. “It wasn’t our first option, but this is a final decision.”
The CSUN swimming head coach Barry Schreifels was shocked to hear the news.
“I never would have guessed this happening to us,” Schreifels said. “When (Mazzuto) told me the news it was very difficult for me. I’ve been working (at CSUN) since 1993 and the swimming team is a big part of my life.”
Schreifels said he and the team haven’t decided yet whether to protest the athletic department’s decision.
“Right now, we are all shocked and disappointed,” Schreifels said. “In the next few days we will discuss how to approach this news.”
Mazzuto said that in the history of the university, gymnastics and men’s water polo were dropped.
Koester could not be reached to comment about the discrepancy because she is out of town.
But through a press release distributed on Monday, Koester said, “We regret the University must take this action that results from severe budget reductions affecting the entire University community. The announcement (made on Monday) is a significant decision to ensure the long-term sustainability of our Intercollegiate Athletics programs.”
Mazzuto said 15 out of 20 sports teams are Big West members and are protected by the Big West Constitution. Mazzuto also said the swimming team has the most scholarships, and along with men’s volleyball and men and women’s indoor track and field, is not a Big West member.
Another reason for the decision to cut the swimming team was the money being saved by cutting the payroll of the shared staff of the team and two coaches, Mazzuto said.
“We have a $7 million budget,” Mazzuto said. “Once the student athletes with scholarships have graduated, which will be fulfilled in a couple of years, we will have an annual savings of $300,000.”
Mazzuto added that the students on scholarships would be able to keep them if they chose to stay at CSUN. Mazzuto said they wanted to tell the team as soon as possible.
“It was really important for us to tell the coaches as soon as possible, so that they have the greatest opportunity to have other options,” Mazzuto said. “Particularly (students) who want to transfer, the sooner we tell them the better chance they have to receive another scholarship.”
Mazzuto said he urged students to stay at the university but that some may end up transferring to continue to compete.
Junior Jeffrey Demoss, kinesthesiology major, who does not have a scholarship, said he was shocked to learn the team was discontinued during a meeting on Monday with Mazzuto. Demoss said he does not plan on participating in any other sport and will most likely stay at CSUN and become a “regular student.”
“Swimming has been a part of my life for 12 years,” Demoss said. “It’s like 12 years of my life were just thrown out the window.”