Swimming in, Running out

With the addition of a varsity women’s swimming and diving program, Georgia State’s athletic department will remove men’s cross country and track and field from varsity sports by 2013-2014.

The change will not have much impact in terms of scholarships awarded by the school because cross country receives the minimum amount (3.5) and track and field did not receive any, according to a press release sent out by Georgia State’s athletic department on Nov. 29. The current student-athlete scholarship recipients will continue to receive the money until graduation.

In the wake of the change there are seven athletes who will not get to compete for the school anymore at a varsity level.

Sophomore cross country and track runner Austin Boetje said, “I think it is great that swimming and diving have become a sport at GSU for women, but it will be upsetting to see my team leave Georgia State as a varsity sport for cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field.”

Although Boetje sees on this decision as unfair, he said it is best to not take it personal and move on.

“It is times like these where even if the situation is unfair you will have to make the best of the situation and not let it get to you,” Boetje said.

Despite the scholarship he will continue to receive, the distance runner said he is already evaluating options to compete at a collegiate level.

“[I] have already started making contact with coaches at UGA and Clemson as well as some other SEC programs to compete for them,” Boetje said.

According to the statement released last week by athletics, the program has been unable to meet sports sponsorship rules for men’s indoor track, which require a minimum of 14 participants to maintain NCAA sponsorship.

Jamie Boggs, Georgia State senior associate athletics director said the addition of women’s swimming and diving will be good for Georgia State because it is sponsored as a championship sport by the Sun Belt Conference, which the Panthers will fully join on July 1, 2013.

“As we continue to transition into our new conference, it could be a great addition and a great fit for Georgia State,” Boggs said. “We are excited about the possibility of adding this team.”

The university sent an online poll earlier in the year to all undergraduate students to measure their level of interest in adding swimming and diving as a sport.

According to the athletic department, “The survey results showed there is interest among undergraduate students in adding the sport.”

Athletics director Cheryl Levick said the inclusion of the new sport is partly to fulfill the students’ preferences shown in the results of the poll.

“We spent a significant amount of time studying the athletics interests of our students,” Levick said. “We are listening to our students, we are responding to them, and we are very excited about this addition.”

By offering swimming and diving, Georgia State does not only meet the preferences from the student body, but the addition increases Title IX opportunities for men and women athletes.

“Georgia State takes Title IX into account at some level in all institutional decisions,” Boggs said. “We are continuously evaluating potential athletic opportunities for our undergraduate students.”

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