ASU men's swimming reinstated - East Valley Tribune: Sports

ASU men's swimming reinstated

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Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:08 pm

When news came down about the elimination of his men's swim program in mid-May, Arizona State coach Mike Chasson never wallowed in his bad fortune.

He immediately went to work, and it paid off on Tuesday.

The men's swim team has raised enough money to have its program reinstated, and expects to have itself fully endowed by 2012.

A payment of $330,000 has gone to the athletic department, with a promise to pay $330,000 on Dec. 31 and $340,000 on March 31, 2009.

Donations have the program well on the way to making those deadlines, although it is believed the entire $1 million has not been completely raised.

"It was a shock when they (eliminated the program), but we weren't going to spend a lot of time crying about it," Chasson said. "We just needed to get after it right away. We knew time was of the essence. If we got after it right away we had a better chance of coming back."

The men's swim team will compete next season with approximately 15 swimmers, down from the usual 20-25.

A highly regarded recruiting class was pared down as some swimmers decided to transfer out in recent weeks, but three freshmen are still expected to join the team.

Chasson said around eight swimmers in total have either left or will not be joining the program. He said he can not yet give names because the transfers have not become official.

The uncertainty surrounding the team caused some damage, although Chasson said it is not irreparable.

"We won't be as good as we could have been, there's no doubt about that," Chasson said. "We would have been a top-10 team in the country with the kids we had coming in. Now we'll be top 20."

The money raised has come from 400 donors nationwide, and the $1 million can sustain the program for around four years. They need $5 million to fully endow the program.

Assistant coach Simon Percy, who swam for Arizona State from 1990-1994, spearheaded the efforts to reinstate the program when word first came down.

"There was a lot of interest without us even asking," Percy said. "People came forward pretty readily. I wasn't sure how long it was going to take, but I always knew we were going to get there."

Chasson said getting the program fully endowed is important on the recruiting trail, as it puts to rest fears that the program will not survive for an athlete's entire collegiate career at the school.

Once a program is endowed, the interest made on the large sum is enough to fund the yearly operating costs.

"If it's endowed it makes it a lot easier, because then I'm not going to sweat anything," Chasson said. "I'm going to go out and recruit kids and have them believe we're going to be here forever, because I'm sure I'm going to get the question: 'Are we going to be around in two years, three years, four years.'"

The men's tennis, men's swimming and wrestling programs at Arizona State were eliminated on May 13. Wrestling was reinstated 10 days later.

"It is comforting to know that we have had two separate sports communities step up and raise enough funds to support these programs," said ASU athletic director Lisa Love. "This is both remarkable and special in that, for the second time, passionate alumni are giving back to protect the future of an ASU varsity sport that not only served them well, but, as of today, will continue to serve future athletes."

Men's tennis will not have a team next season. Tennis player T.J. Bellama said there was a June 30 deadline imposed by the athletic department if they wanted to field a program next season.

"Even if we raised the money today we would not be reinstated this fall," Bellama said.

Four of the nine players from the team will transfer and play elsewhere next season. One player was a senior, and the four others have chosen to stay at Arizona State and will not play next season, Bellama said.

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