Wait Until It Happens To You!

Richard Hunkler, Ph.D.
Water Polo Planet

Last year when Grove City College dropped the men's water polo program, I didn't write a letter to Grove City's A.D. or to the school's President to explain my concerns because I figured I was already doing enough for water polo. Heck, I was the volunteer assistant coach for the men's and women's team at Slippery Rock University; I was helping to maintain the Water Polo Planet - the Alternative Voice web site, and I was sharing my water polo knowledge and experiences by writing water polo articles for the Water Polo Planet. I kept saying to myself, "There is just so much one person can do for water polo!"

Then earlier this year when Salem International University dropped both the men's and women's water polo programs I said to myself that I have to write a letter or at least an email to both the A.D. and the President at SIU. I needed to write a letter explaining how concerned and disappointed I was about the University's decision to drop the water polo programs. I started an email to the President several times but I never got around to finishing it. You know, with helping to coach two teams, helping to maintain a web site, and writing two articles a month for the web site, when and where was I to find the time to finish the email to the President much less write a new email to the A.D.?

In the back of my mind I was thinking both of those schools never had a Division II women's water polo team win a Division I National Collegiate Championship nor did they have a Division II men's water polo team that placed 7th and 8th in mainly a Division I NCAA Championship. Since Slippery Rock University had accomplished these athletic honors there is no way in a million years that the A.D. who just tolerated the water polo programs and the new President who was committed to excellence would ever drop the water polo programs. Boy was I wrong! Not only did they drop the men's water polo and swimming programs but they dropped the women's programs and they dropped four other sports as well. They did it even though they are currently under the Title IX hammer for poor compliance to the law. 

The University claims that the reason they are doing it is because of the lack of state funds which they are privately blaming on the duly elected Democratic Governor , and because they do not have the money to renovate the field house swimming pool. They knew that the field house pool needed to be renovated when they spent close to a million dollars of the University's money renovating the football stadium and over a million dollars of the University's money building a new baseball stadium. The ironic thing about this situation is that the University's money spent on the football and baseball stadiums will only directly benefit athletics whereas if they had used that money to renovate the field house swimming pool it would have benefited not only athletics but also academic programs and recreational swims for the general student population and the faculty. Doesn't this protest from the University's President about lack of funds sound similar to the words Shakespeare so aptly wrote , "Methink he doth protesteth too much"?

I digress because the purpose of my article is to make a plea that the reader not act like I did in the losses of the men's water polo program at Grove City  and the men's and women's water polo programs at Salem International. Please send an email to the President Dr Robert M. Smith, [email protected] and Dr Bob Watson, the Vice President of Student Affairs, [email protected] explaining your disappointment and concern about the men's and women's water polo programs at Slippery Rock University being dropped. Don't send any angry emails to these two men because I have already sent enough angry emails to them to last two life times. Thank you in advance for sending your emails. If every time a university or a college drops a water polo program we raise enough concerned voices to the people in charge then maybe, just maybe, it will give them second thoughts about what they have done.

Please do not be like me and "Wait Until It Happens to You" because if it happens to a few more men's varsity collegiate water polo programs then there will be no more men's varsity collegiate water polo. Remember this is not just about Eastern collegiate water polo teams but it is also about California collegiate water polo teams. I promise you that if there is no more varsity collegiate water polo outside of California then there will be no more varsity collegiate water polo inside California as well. This is because there will be no NCAA Water Polo Championship. I truly didn't think it could happen to Slippery Rock, but it did!  Become concerned today and write those emails. Again please don't be similar to me and "Wait until It Happens to You!"    

P. S. The President said if we raise a 5 million dollar endowment by July 1, 2006 the four aquatic programs would not be dropped. Apparently, the President is not willing to discuss the endowment for the water polo teams and the swimming teams separately. The A.D. said we could assume a 5% average yearly return on the endowment to spend on the sports operating budget. Thus, on a 5 million endowment the total operational budget of the aquatic sports would be $250,000. Currently the total aquatic sports budget is about $187,000.  It is an $187,000 budget because the women's budget for the two sports, water polo and swimming, is about double that of the men's budget for the two sports for doing almost the exact same thing. Consequently, the four aquatic sports could easily get by on a budget of $125,000 which in reality would only need a 2.5 million dollar endowment.  It appears as if the President is not even willing to set a realistic but unobtainable financial goal for the four aquatic sports. A bulletin just in, $650,000 was recently spent by the University on renovating the on campus President's residence!

Email Coach Hunkler at [email protected]