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Wednesday, December 4
Auction started to keep aquatic team afloat

By Darren Rovell

Since Dartmouth College announced the elimination of its swimming and diving teams a week ago, almost every form of protest has been used -- a Web site, a student government resolution and even the threat of legal action.

But it's an online auction that has garnered national attention as a Dartmouth swimmer hopes to find a donor to fund the $211,000 that the troubled Ivy League aquatics program needs to stay afloat.

"This has been one more way to bring our situation into the public eye," said Joann Brislin, the head coach of the women's swimming and diving teams.

Encouraged by a friend, sophomore Jenny Kunkel, who swims the butterfly, backstroke and the individual medley, decided to post the auction on Monday.

"In the first night, we got 4,000 hits," said Kunkel, who noted that she, along with many of her fellow swimmers and divers, are considering transferring if the threatened cut -- which is scheduled to take effect after the season ends in February -- becomes a reality.

Although Kunkel has received numerous e-mails, there were no bidders as of 1 p.m. ET Wednesday. The auction closes on Dec. 12.

Kunkel said she didn't know how a corporate sponsorship agreement would work and acknowledged that a private donor might be easier to handle, much in the way Dartmouth's sailing team is privately endowed.

Dartmouth officials informed the teams they would be cut next season only 45 minutes before the school issues a news release on Nov. 25, Kunkel said. According to the release, the aquatic teams cut satisfied about 80 percent of the necessary trimming of the athletics budget for the 2003-04 season.

Dartmouth athletics director JoAnn Harper did not immediately return calls seeking comment, but she told the Boston Globe that there are no plans to restore the program. Jim Wilson, the men's coach, said he supports the effort, but doubts a donor can be found via the Internet.

"They just made this drastic cut," Kunkel said. "They didn't even talk about creative ways to possibly finance this."

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for, can be reached at

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