East Carolina University Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson announced on May 21 the ECU athletics department will cut four programs this year. Both the men’s and women’s swim and dive teams along with the men’s and women’s tennis teams will be affected.
This change comes as a result of the budget of the athletics department. With COVID-19 causing multiple changes for the university, expenses have risen. ECU athletics dealt with a $7.5 million deficit this year, and since the pandemic, the deficit has risen to $10.2 million. With the removal of these four programs, ECU athletics anticipates about $4.9 million in savings, according to ECUPirates.
“Today, we announced the university will reduce the number of our intercollegiate athletic programs by four. This was not a decision made lightly since it affects fellow Pirates, but the university must make tough decisions to be efficient in the coming years,” Mitchelson said in a press release sent to the ECU community.
There are a total of 68 athletes and nine coaches that will be affected. ECU will still recognize new National Letter-of-Intent signees in 2020 as far as scholarships are concerned, however, the university will still allow incoming students to transfer if the opportunity presents itself.
"The coaches and student-athletes for these respective sports have all impacted our department and the Pirate Family in a positive manner. This decision was not made lightly," ECU Director of Athletics Jon Gilbert said, according to ECUPirates.
Scholarships given out by the university will continue to be recognized for students who will complete their degree in four years. ECU News Services provided a statement which said the affected student-athletes will have access to the athletics compliance staff and academic staff for further assistance regarding scholarships and transfer information.
Additionally, Gilbert said though the swim and dive teams along with the tennis teams will face cuts, the history of the teams will continue to be celebrated at ECU.
"The history and success of the swimming and diving programs and the tennis programs will continue to be celebrated at East Carolina. Matthew Jabs, Shawn Heinchon and Kirstin Burgess are not only successful coaches, but they have contributed greatly to our community and have been role models for our student-athletes," Gilbert said, according to ECUPirates.