GREENVILLE — East Carolina is eliminating its men’s and women’s tennis and swimming and diving programs to help reduce a $4.9 million budget deficit.

The move affects 68 student-athletes and nine coaches and reduces ECU’s sponsored sports from 20 to 16, including nine for women. The NCAA requires Division I FBS schools to carry minimums of 16 sports, eight for women.

East Carolina's men's swimming team includes junior Ben Barden, a Southwest Guilford graduate from High Point, and Greensboro's Pietro Nannucci, a Grimsley graduate. No other Triad athletes are listed on the school's web site as being members of either of the four teams, which are heavy on foreign-born athletes.

“The coaches and student-athletes for these respective sports have all impacted our department and the Pirate Family in a positive manner,” athletics director Jon Gilbert said in a release. “This decision was not made lightly. The history and success of the swimming and diving programs and the tennis programs will continue to be celebrated at East Carolina.”

ECU interim chancellor Ron Mitchelson stated that the athletics budget was not sustainable pre-COVID-19. The deficit began to grow significantly with the pandemic where the impact was immediate and would affect future revenue and expenses.

ECU will honor scholarships for athletes who remain at the school.

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