One day after announcing the demotion of its varsity water polo programs, Washington & Jefferson College has reversed the decision. Citing the lack of a Division III water polo championship, Athletic Director Scott McGuinness announced the “reclassification” of water polo to club status on May 4. Today, President Tori Haring-Smith made a surprise “special announcement,” a u-turn that will allow water polo to remain a varsity program at the school.
On Wednesday afternoon, Washington & Jefferson College announced a decision to reclassify its men’s and women’s water polo programs from a varsity sport to a club sport. Today, it reversed that decision. The College expended a great deal of time arriving at this decision. Consultants, the Collegiate Water Polo Association, and alumni were consulted; research was done. But recent conversations with passionate students, alumni, and parents have raised new issues, and the College has guaranteed that water polo will remain a varsity sport at least through spring 2020 .
The W&J men placed third in last year’s CWPA Division III Championship; the women fell to Connecticut College in this year’s DIII title match. Rumors of a national Division III title tournament have circulated among the water polo community for several years. Such a championship would drive growth among programs, according to many within water polo leadership.