For seven decades, East Carolina University Swimming and Diving thrived as the most consistently successful program among all of ECU Athletics, including two national championships and twenty-one conference titles. That extraordinary legacy was upended in May 2020, when the university cut both teams. The Save ECU Swim & Dive community — comprising alumni, parents, and friends of the program — arose from the need to restore both teams to their rightful place among ECU’s premier programs and to ensure ongoing support for the athletes and coaches entrusted with future of Pirate aquatics.
In the nearly 70-year history of Pirate Swimming and Diving, the teams have reached a level of success unrivaled among ECU athletics: two national championships, 15 individual national championships, 47 All-Americans, 21 conference championships, and 300+ individual event champions.
- ECU Men’s Swimming and Diving won the American Athletic Conference championship in 2020, its fourth conference title in six years. Swimming and Diving is the only sport at ECU to earn multiple conference championships in the past five seasons.
- The women’s team posted the highest team GPA among collegiate swimming and diving programs in the nation during the 2013 spring semester.
- Three pirate athletes — one men’s swimmer, one men’s diver, and one women’s swimmer – qualified to compete at the 2020 NCAA Championships.
- Head Swimming Coach Matt Jabs was recognized by his peers at the AAC’s Coach of the Year in 2020.
- It’s been more than a quarter century since either the men’s or women’s team posted a losing season. The men have finished at or above .500 for 37 consecutive seasons, and the women have done so for 28 seasons.
- Former Head Coach Rick Kobe was just the sixth coach in NCAA history to surpass 500 dual meet victories.
ECU Swimming and Diving represents more than exceptional performance in the pool and the classroom. It is an asset to the Greenville community and the state or North Carolina.
Each year, swimmers and divers provide more than 500 hours of community service to organizations like the Special Olympics. And when their time in the pool is done, they apply the same dedication and community spirit they learned as Pirate athletes to their professional lives.
Students on the team today are preparing for a diverse range of careers that contribute meaningfully to the community around them — including professions, like education and nursing, in which North Carolina has severe shortages.
The swimming and diving programs support economic growth in North Carolina by attracting out-of-state students. Many of those students stay in the state after graduation, and the swimming and diving community includes numerous entrepreneurs who have built business that, without this program, likely would have been located elsewhere.
Does the Minges Natatorium facility need upgrades to meet Division 1 (FBS) standards?
A 2013 overhaul of the water filtration systems and air temperature control system have created an ideal competition and training environment. An indirect lighting system, along with improvements to the facilities acoustics and sound system was added in the summer of 2014. These recent updates have made Minges one of the nicest collegiate aquatic facilities in the state. Source: ECUPirates.com
Does ECU Swimming and Diving bring revenue to the school?
The student-athletes on the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams pay an estimated $800,000 in tuition annually to the university. Additionally, the NCAA provides $36,500 per sport each year, as well as $6,000 for each one of the teams’ 23 available scholarships. According to an independent analysis by sports economist Andy Schwarz, the swimming and diving programs are roughly revenue-neutral for the school and may actually provide a net profit. A significant amount of the university’s annual funding for swimming and diving scholarships is contributed by the East Carolina University Educational Foundation — the Pirate Club.
Are there other ways to fund the swimming and diving program?
Alumni and supporters of ECU Swimming and Diving have pledged more than $500,000 in donations to restore the teams, indicating a strong basis of support to make them financially viable to the university. In addition, there is the potential for new programs, such as age group swim camps, that would provide new revenue to support the teams’ ongoing needs.
We are committed to ensuring a financially viable and sustainable future for the ECU Swimming and Diving programs.
Our goal is to reach committed donations of $1.5 million over five years to sustain the swimming and diving programs. This is a completely achievable goal. Passionate donors had committed more than $500,000 within two weeks of ECU’s announcement to close the programs. Beyond donations, the Save ECU Swimming & Diving campaign has identified numerous other potential revenue streams that could further offset the already minimal financial impact these teams have on the university.
We are asking ECU’s administration — in particular, Athletic Director Jon Gilbert — to join our conversation. To hear our ideas. To help ECU become one of the first university’s in the country to figure out how to protect and provide for its Olympic sports programs. To be heroes for the most successful athletic program at East Carolina.