A&T swimmers receive support via online petition

Select members of the N.C. A&T swim team have created a petition in an effort to gain support and potentially stop the discontinuation of the swimming program.

“The petition is merely a way to gain support from our community and the North Carolina A&T student body,” stated senior A&T swimmer Erika Eisenman.

The document comes as a response to recent news that the A&T Athletics Department will discontinue swimming by the 2015-16 season.

“We are the strongest of the strong, hearing news like this has only elevated our chemistry,” said Eisenman.

The university plans to reinstate men’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf, and women’s soccer over the next seven years.

University officials have cited the fact that the MEAC does not sponsor swimming championships as one of the underlying reasons for the decision.

“We must move our department to where every athlete has the opportunity to compete for a conference and NCAA title,” Hilton said. “I don’t see a scenario where the MEAC will sponsor swimming in the foreseeable future,” stated Athletic Director Earl Hilton.

A&T is currently a member of the Costal Collegiate Swimming Association alongside Howard who is also in the MEAC conference.

A&T finished 13 out of 13 teams in the conference last season.

On the petition website, former Ms. North Carolina A&T Jasmine Gurley, says “swimming is not the most common sport in the African-American community or the MEAC conference, which is exactly the reason our team must remain.”

People that donated left comments expressing concerns regarding the fact that a swim team allows African-Americans to be represented in the sport.

E’lan Brewer, from Clinton, Md said, “I am a black swimmer. Swam at Howard University for four years. The best experience in my life being able to partake in a sport I love with people that looked just like me.”

Senior swimmer Christian Hill says, “I’m disappointed in the decision because it leaves only one HBCU that offers swimming when we are gone.”

The petition, which is located on org.com, has reached its goal of 1200 signatures.

Support for the team has come from close and afar, from Fort Lauderdale to Kirkland Lake, Canada.

The A&T Athletic Department announced that they would honor the swim team member’s scholarships and will allow them to transfer to other institutions immediately without penalty or loss of eligibility.

“I can’t say that I am happy with the decision… But what I can say is that the athletic department is adhering to all of the swimmers scholarships, and each swimmer will remain on scholarship until we graduate,” said Eisenman.

A&T and Howard are currently the only HBCUs in the country that have competitive swim teams.

Players on the team seem confident that the program will finish strongly.

“I believe that in the next three seasons we will define success as breaking records, building bridges with the community, setting new goals, and out and doing the best we can,” Eisenman stated.

The swim team will begin their season on Oct. 4 at the Greensboro Aquatic Club N.C. Invitational at 9 a.m.

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  • Kalyn Hoyle, Managing Editor