Urbana Women’s Water Polo Ends as University Announces Closure

Urbana-campus-courtesy-Urbana-Athletics

Ohio is losing its newest women’s varsity water polo program before it ever competed. Urbana University, which announced the addition of women’s varsity water polo in April of 2019, is permanently closing its physical campus at the end of the the spring semester, ending all competitive athletics for the school which will migrate to an online-learning model.

Citing many years of “low enrollments” and the current Covid-19 pandemic the school said it could no longer sustain itself and that “athletic offerings and on-site administrative roles will cease at the Urbana branch campus.”

In September of 2019 the school hired Danielle Montenegro as head coach in anticipation of the 2020-21 season, its first. Faith Frazier of Chelsea, Michigan and one of Montenegro’s early recruits, tweeted she was “devastated” to hear of the decision. The goalkeeper is now actively looking for a new program to join.

Urbana is the second Ohio-based women’s varsity program to cease operations since 2015, when Notre Dame College eliminated theirs. Wittenberg University is now the only school in the state offering the sport at the varsity level.

With the loss of Urbana’s program there are now 66 active varsity programs in the U.S. Two Illinois schools, Millikin University and Augustana College, will raise the figure to 68 when then begin competing in the 2020-21 scholastic year.