WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Athletes and alumni of the College of William & Mary are not giving up and are still fighting to save seven sports the college plans to discontinue at the end of the academic year.
Immediately after the decision was announced on September 3, the group “Save the Tribe 7” formed. It’s made up of student-athletes and alumni who want an audience with college leadership. They have a lot of questions and want a chance to save their sports.
Officials say the cuts are due to financial reasons. Student-athletes and alumni say the decision is devastating.
“I formed the most important relationships in my life on that pool deck and to think that future generations of people won’t have that opportunity is heartbreaking for me,” said former swimmer and former swimming Head Coach Matt Crispino. “Allow us a chance to fundraise allow us a chance to make the program self-sustaining.”
Crispino is one of many people calling for an audience with college leadership.
Alumnus Tom Gill, who is now the Chief of Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service, wants to see a change, too.
“We are not ready to let this program just go away because a couple of people think it’s a burden on their time,” said Gill.
What’s happening now at the college echoes something Gill experienced decades ago.
“I was in the room in 1991 when they cut our program the first time,” said Gill. “To hear this happen again and knowing where this program has gone since we saved it the first time, stunned, really by just a ridiculous decision by the administration.”
What came out of that challenge was the start of a $3 million endowment for the swim team. It’s currently unclear what will happen to that money.
Gill believes something like that could happen again and he wants the college to give them a chance.
“Now is not the time to take away these opportunities for people,” said Gill. “Now is not the time to take away the things that make life worth living.”
10 On Your Side has reached out to college officials, but has not heard back.
In an online statement, they said the “costs associated with operating a department that sponsors 23 varsity teams … have grown dramatically over time.”
The Board of Visitors is holding a listening session Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Alumni House.
Athletic Director Samantha K. Huge also recently shared a statement responding to criticism that the college used similar language to other schools that cut sports programs. The statement went on to say that the school will share more on the “process and data” that led to the decision in the coming weeks.
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