All 4 College Football Playoff Teams Have Men’s & Women’s Swimming & Diving Programs

While there are only a handful of swim meets going on this week, as most teams have hunkered down into their winter training, college football is deep in the mire of 43 college football bowl games: usually-competitive matchups between teams with the best records at the top level of NCAA Division I football.

The 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship will take place on Monday, January 9.

That includes the three games that make up the College Football Playoff – the national championship of the Football Bowl Subdivision of college football (albeit not a formal NCAA Championship event).

A reader, coach Greg Temple noticed something interesting about Saturday night’s semifinal games: for the second-straight season, all four participating teams in the College Football Playoff sponsor both men’s and women’s swimming & diving programs.

In the first seven seasons of the CFP, there was never a year where all participating schools sponsored varsity swimming & diving programs (let alone both men’s and women’s programs). Top-tier football schools like Clemson, Oklahoma, and Oregon disrupted those patterns in the early years of the CFP.

College Football Playoff/Swimming History

A few interesting things stand out here. One is that none of the 59 schools that sponsor only a women’s swimming program have ever qualified for the College Football Playoff.

In general, a higher-than-average number of CFP teams (24/36) sponsor both men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams. With such a small sample size, as well as a connection between teams making the CFP in multiple years, it’s hard to make any broad-sweeping conclusions.

But it does, in one way, make sense that schools with robust Olympic sports programs, including swimming & diving, would do well in football. Maintaining Olympic sports programs, rather than reducing departments to the minimum to comply with NCAA and Title IX regulations, implies a financial health that also can drive success in major sports like football and basketball.

Sometimes that’s a result of quality management by the athletics department; sometimes, that’s a result of lots of activity by a few high net worth donors, or lots of activity from large student bodies.

Every team on this list did sponsor  both men’s and women’s swimming programs at some point or another. Oklahoma dropped swimming in 1985, blaming, in part, the lost revenue from having only five home football games for a stretch in the 1980s.

The Oregon swimming team (along with gymnastics) was cut by Bill Byrne a year later in 1986, who blamed an NCAA “major college” requirement to add men’s and women’s indoor track & field and women’s golf programs. Byrne went on to work as AD at both Nebraska and Texas A&M, schools that have swimming & diving programs.

Washington cut its swimming & diving programs in 2009 (after threatening to cut them in 2000), and Clemson dropped swimming in 2011 and their women’s diving program in 2017.

Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
2014-2015 Alabama (M&W) Oregon (No Swim) Florida State (M&W) Ohio State (M&W)
2015-2016 Clemson (No Swim) Alabama (M&W) Michigan State (M&W, since cut) Oklahoma (No Swim)
2016-2017 Alabama (M&W) Clemson (No Swim) Ohio State (M&W) Washington (No Swim)
2017-2018 Clemson (No Swim) Oklahoma (No Swim) Georgia (M&W) Alabama (M&W)
2018-2019 Alabama (M&W) Clemson (No Swim) Notre Dame (M&W) Oklahoma (No Swim)
2019-2020 LSU (M&W) Ohio State (M&W) Clemson (No Swim) Oklahoma (No Swim)
2020-2021 Alabama (M&W) Clemson (No Swim) Ohio State (M&W) Notre Dame (M&W)
2021-2022 Alabama (M&W) Michigan (M&W) Georgia (M&W) Cincinnati (M&W)
2022-2023 Georgia (M&W) Michigan (M&W) TCU (M&W) Ohio State (M&W)

2022-2023 Bowl Games and Swimming/Diving

The FBS bowl system at large is fairly representative of swimming sponsorship as well. 3o out of 82 teams participating, about 36.6%, sponsor men’s swimming. That’s compared to 37.4% of schools across Division I athletics (based on 2020-2021 official sport sponsorship data from the NCAA).

FBS bowl teams do slightly better in women’s swimming: 64.6% of them sponsor a women’s swimming program, as compared to just 54.3% of total NCAA Division I institutions.

Bowl Team #1 Men’s Swimming? Women’s Swimming? Team #2 Men’s Swimming
Orange Bowl Tennessee Yes Yes Clemson No No
Sugar Bowl Alabama Yes Yes Kansas State No No
Fiesta Bowl (Semifinal) TCU Yes Yes Michigan Yes Yes
Peach Bowl Georgia Yes Yes Ohio State Yes Yes
Cotton Bowl Classic Tulane No Yes USC Yes Yes
Rose Bowl Penn State Yes Yes Utah Yes Yes
Bahamas Bowl UAB No No Miami (OH) Yes Yes
Cure Bowl Troy No No UTSA No No
Fenway Bowl Louisville Yes Lyes Cincinnati Yes Yes
Las Vegas Bowl Oregon State No No Florida Yes Yes
LA Bowl Fresno State No Yes Washington State No Yes
Lending Tree Bowl Southern Miss No No Rice No Yes
New Mexico Bowl BYU Yes Yes SMU Yes Yes
Frisco Bowl Boise State No No North Texas No Yes
Myrtle Beach Bowl Marshall No Yes UConn No Yes
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Eastern Michigan No Yes San Jose State No Yes
Boca Raton Bowl Toledo No Yes Liberty No Yes
New Orleans Bowl Western Kentucky No No South Alabama No No
Armed Forces Bowl Air Force Yes Yes Baylor No No
Independence Bowl Houston No Yes Louisiana No No
Gasparilla Bowl Wake Forest No No Missouri Yes Yes
Hawaii Bowl Middle Tennessee State No No San Diego State No Yes
Quick Lane Bowl New Mexico State No Yes Bowling Green No Yes
Camellia Bowl Buffalo No Yes Georgia Southern No Yes
First Responder Bowl Memphis No No Utah State No No
Birmingham Bowl East Carolina No Yes Coastal Carolina No No
Guaranteed Rate Bowl Wisconsin Yes Yes Oklahoma State No No
Military Bowl Duke Yes Yes UCF No No
Liberty Bowl Arkansas No Yes Kansas No Yes
Holiday Bowl Oregon State No No North Carolina Yes Yes
Texas Bowl Texas Tech No No Ole Miss No No
Pinstripe Bowl Minnesota Yes Yes Syracuse No No
Cheez It Bowl Florida State Yes Yes Oklahoma No No
Alamo Bowl Washington No No Texas Yes Yes
Duke’s Mayo Bowl Maryland No No NC State Yes Yes
Sun Bowl Pitt Yes Yes UCLA No Yes
Gator Bowl Notre Dame Yes Yes South Carolina Yes Yes
Arizona Bowl Ohio No Yes Wyoming Yes Yes
Music City Bowl Illinois No Yes Mississippi State No No
Citrus Bowl Purdue Yes Yes LSU Yes Yes

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