Western Kentucky’s swimming and diving program is unlikely to return in 2020 upon completion of its suspension.

WKU’s athletic operating budget took a $1.14 million reduction over recent months as part of universitywide cuts. The $1.14 million figure includes $226,502 in personnel costs and $912,981 in non-personnel costs, per the 2018-19 WKU budget approved Friday by the school’s Board of Regents.

Those cuts recommended by a 10-person budget council included the elimination of all funds for the swimming and diving program, the Daily News learned Tuesday.

The program was placed under a five-year suspension April 14, 2015, after an investigation by the Bowling Green Police Department and WKU’s Title IX office.

Money previously allocated toward the program was redirected during the course of its suspension toward cost of attendance, sources said.

The combined 2014-15 budget for the men’s and women’s swimming programs was $995,421.

Cost of attendance funds “are intended to cover the real costs of attending college not covered by the previous definition of a full scholarship, which included tuition, room and board, required fees and books,” per the NCAA’s website. Those funds will now be drawn from other areas of the athletic budget, sources said.

Athletic director Todd Stewart was asked in May – three years and one month after the swimming and diving suspension was announced – about the program’s future.

“What we had said at the time was we would get at least three, 3 1/2 years into it and then kind of evaluate everything,” Stewart said. “We’re not really to that point yet but I would say that’s something we’ll have to sit down and discuss relatively soon in terms of where that goes in the future.

“I think we’ll have to make the decision (about the program’s future) by next summer. I don’t think we go into year five of the suspension not knowing what we’re going to do.”

Now, barring a significant influx of outside money, WKU’s swimming and diving program won’t return at the completion of its suspension.

Stewart declined to comment Tuesday on elimination of the program’s funds.

The 10-person budget committee who recommended the cuts included Indudeep Chhachii, council chair; Ladonna Hinton, associate vice president for academic budgets and administration; Kim Reed, assistant vice president for resources management; Laura Delancey, assistant professor in libraries; Stacey Garrett, associate budget director; Jeff Katz, dean of Gordon Ford College of Business; Jim Cummings, chief financial officer; Eric Reed, chair of department of history; Savannah Molyneaux, SGA vice president and Jennifer Miller, internal audit director.

The WKU men’s swimming and diving program won 15 conference championships since 1969-70, including two in its first two seasons in Conference USA. The women’s program won nine Sun Belt Conference titles from 1997-98 forward.

The program had 11 NCAA qualifiers, three All-Americans and three Olympians with one gold medalist in Claire Donahue, who earned gold after swimming in the preliminary heats of the 4x100-meter medley relay at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Former WKU swimmer Collin Craig filed a complaint in January 2015 with the BGPD. He reported multiple assaults and hazing incidents that included forced alcohol consumption and made reference to a “veil of secrecy” that discouraged reporting misbehavior to any authority figure outside the swim team.

Craig estimated in his complaint that he had to attend 27 parties his freshman year and was chastised when he didn’t attend.

When Craig addressed his concerns with team captains, he was “singled out, belittled, threatened, intimidated and shunned.”

A subsequent federal lawsuit filed by Craig detailed incidents in which he claimed to have been hit in the testicles repeatedly by teammates and ordered to take part in “forced servitude” activities that involved cleaning up vomit at a Chestnut Street residence referred to in court filings as the “party house.”

Craig also claimed to have been subject to verbal abuse and choked to the point of passing out during a “wrestling encounter” with a teammate. He also stated in his lawsuit that a teammate disclosed to a third party that he had been charged with rape, an allegation that was false and had no basis in fact.

A university Title IX investigation led to the suspension of the swimming and diving program for five years, which was announced in April 2015 by Stewart and former WKU president Gary Ransdell.

The Title IX investigation concluded that policies were violated based on points regarding hazing, sexual harassment and sexual assault, according to a memorandum sent in 2015 to Craig from former Title IX director and coordinator Huda Melky.

Positions for head coach Bruce Marchionda, associate head coach Brian Thomas and head diving coach Chelsea Ale were eliminated in June 2015.

Craig and WKU reached an undisclosed settlement in August 2016.{&end}

– Follow Daily News sports reporter Brad Stephens on Twitter @BradBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

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Bowling Green Daily News sports reporter primarily covering Western Kentucky football and men's basketball.

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