Arizona State Redshirts Entire Swim Team, Will Other Schools/Teams Follow Suit?

Jul 28, 2020, 10:08 AM
MESA, AZ - APRIL 12: Coach Bob Bowman of Arizona State University watches the action during day one...
MESA, AZ - APRIL 12: Coach Bob Bowman of Arizona State University watches the action during day one of the TYR Pro Swim Series at Mesa at Skyline Aquatics Center on April 12, 2018 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Arizona – The focus for college athletics ever since the COVID-19 pandemic made its way to the United States was mostly about revenue-driving sports like football and basketball.

However, there are so many more athletes that are impacted by losing their season and while the NCAA did approve an extra year of eligibility for senior spring sport athletes, it did not do the same for winter athletes who lost out on their championship season and eligibility.

Fall sports are just around the corner and there are conferences that have already decided to either cancel or push those sports to the spring. This leads to a lot of confusion about if those sports will be played, how many games, and also the eligibility for athletes who may get a reduced or even no season this year.

The Arizona State swim team has decided to take a proactive approach to preserve as many athletes eligibility as possible by redshirting its entire team and shift focus to the 2021-22 season.

The Sun Devils are led by Bob Bowman who has coached several Olympians, including Michael Phelps and he is a four-time U.S. Olympic coach. It was his call to make this drastic move.

“We know this is our best course of action. It gives us clarity, direction and a good plan that our team can benefit as athletes and students, and allows families to feel at ease over being able to watch their Sun Devils at the 2022 NCAA Championships, which was taken away last year,” Bowman said in a press release.

“Our teams and our program are in great shape. It is the summer of 2020 and some additional things have to be considered. We are very confident in this plan and know it is the best interests of our program, our student-athletes and our athletic department. Much thought went into it and we are excited to start working with a firm training calendar.”

Bowman also mentioned he does not want his athletes to miss out on participating two NCAA championships since last year both the men’s and women’s event was canceled. The Sun Devils program also has many international students that are not even on campus and the team can not even use the facilities.

What canceling the season does as well is lowers the cost involved in the sport with no travel costs associated with this sport that goes from September through March.

Will Arizona State Start A Movement?

What the Sun Devils are doing is unique and KSL Unrivaled wonders if this could start a trend for other programs. The idea behind this is brilliant and is completely friendly to the athletes in a time of uncertainty because no one knows if all of these sports will continue.

Major League Baseball already has issues with the outbreak within the Miami Marlins organization, so for the Sun Devils swimming program to take this preemptive step allows athletes to participate in a full college experience.

However, KSL Unrivaled Scott Mitchell feels that the NCAA should step in and not put the burden on individual teams, especially if the season does not go as planned.

“Arizona State’s coaches don’t want to cheat them,” Mitchell said. “But why does he have to do this? Why doesn’t the NCAA come out and say, ‘let’s just have a mulligan and this is unprecedented in what we are in.’ This is a mulligan year because this whole thing doesn’t matter, just strike the whole year as nothing.”

2020 is an odd year with how sports are being scheduled and viewed and this move by Arizona State is no more unique than the NBA, NHL and MLS playing in a bubble, or college football reducing schedules to get games in.

Nothing is normal in sports and won’t be for a while so why not go this route and Arizona State decided to take control of the situation, and it would not be shocking to see other programs follow their lead to do what is best for their athletes.

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Arizona State Redshirts Entire Swim Team, Will Other Schools/Teams Follow Suit?