Everybody Into the Pool

Squeezed by rising costs and declining enrollment, Philadelphia’s LaSalle University has been searching for ways to address both of those problems.

On the cost side, with a ten percent deficit in its operating budget, the college laid off 23 employees and is offering buy-outs to older faculty members.

Because who needs experienced teachers?

The school also is interested in addressing its revenue side by seeking to attract more students. There are a number of tried and true ways to do that – things like better teachers, better academic programs, even better dorms.

Well, scratch that “better teachers” idea. LaSalle’s trying to get rid of those.

But LaSalle has a better idea.

Water polo.

water polo

The new official sport of north Philadelphia.

That’s right: a not very highly regarded college in a not very nice urban area that serves mostly working-class students has decided that the key to boosting enrollment is to start a varsity team in a sport generally played by well-to-do suburbanites.

Actually, LaSalle is launching two varsity water polo teams: a men’s team and a women’s team.

Yay, Title IX!

Because what aspiring college student wouldn’t be drawn to rough-and-tumble north Philadelphia by the allure of a water polo program?

The timing of this plan is strange: because of the financial and enrollment problems, the university is in the midst of a comprehensive review of its academic and non-academic programs to decide what to keep, what to drop, what to improve, and what to add. That review isn’t expected to be finished until later this year.

But apparently, the folks at LaSalle decided that their idea to field varsity water polo teams is so brilliant, so compelling, and so inspired that it just couldn’t wait. The time to strike is now!

Actually, the thing to do now is get their heads examined.

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