President Benton Offers Hope to Swimmers and Divers

MALIBU, Calif. - Pepperdine President Andy Benton is offering hope and the opportunity to continue the Women's Swimming and Diving program as a NCAA Division I sport through the implementation of a pledge drive.

In a memorandum released by President Benton earlier this month, which outlined the fundraising mission and goals, gifts and pledges assuring $400,000 of annual funding for each of the next four years must be committed by January 31, 2010.

"We are excited about this opportunity to help save our program, and I really hope it succeeds so I can tell my fellow coaches how we accomplished our fund-raising goals," Pepperdine head swimming and diving coach Nick Rodionoff said. "A number of programs around the state are feeling threatened and I think it's realistic to say the future of our sport is through self-reliance."

Pledge and Donation Options


1. Swimming & Diving Multi-Year Pledge Agreement

Click this link for a .pdf document that will allow you to fill out a pledge agreement that can be mailed or faxed directly to Athletics Director John Watson. If the program is discontinued all gifts made under this agreement will be returned to donor and this pledge agreement shall be deemed cancelled. Contact Dr. Watson at the address provided below: 

John WatsonDirector of AthleticsPepperdine University24255 Pacific Coast HighwayMalibu, Calif.  90263-4150Fax: (310) 506-6898
2. Refundable one-time gift

Mail one-time gifts that are contingent on the swimming and diving fundraising goal amount being reached payable to "Pepperdine University."  Checks received toward the goal will only be cashed if the deposits meet or exceed the fundraising campaign goal on January 31, 2010.  If the campaign goals are met on that day the check will be cashed. If the goal is not met, the check will be returned to the donor unless the donor indicates the intent for the gift to be used to benefit swimming regardless of the campaign results. Checks can be mailed to Athletics Director John Watson at the address listed above.

3. Non-refundable on-line donation Click this link to make an online donation to benefit Pepperdine Swimming & Diving. Donations received through this means are non-refundable and will be gift receipted by the University in the year they are received.

Tax Information: Pepperdine will provide a gift receipt for gifts which are donated via online or with instructions to deposit the gift immediately in the year they are received.  Gifts that are held until January 31, 2010 will be deposited in 2010 and Pepperdine will gift receipt the donation in 2010.  Any cash gifts presented in 2009 and returned upon request in 2010, may require an amended tax return if the gift is returned in a different tax year. Donors should coordinate their tax basis and gift receipts with a tax professional. 

Please contact Dr. John Watson at or call 310-506-4242 for any questions or comments.

The complete text of President Benton's memorandum to the friends and supporters of the Pepperdine Women's Swimming and Diving Team, dated December 1, 2009 is posted below.

 TO:       Friends and Supporters of the Pepperdine Women's Swimming and Diving Team   

FROM:  Andrew K. Benton

RE:       Response to Offers of Support/Immediate Action Required

DATE:  December 1, 2009

Cc:       John G. Watson, Keith Hinkle

Without going into great detail, the decision to conclude the Swimming and Diving team was a difficult decision.  Students associated with that program have been some of the students my wife and I hold most dear.  As I have shared many times: I admire so much the family environment that seems to come with those who love to swim and dive competitively.  It is actually remarkable to behold.

Having made and communicated the decision (and hurt a lot of students and parents in the process), to offer to rethink our position is perilous and may result in another round of frustration.  I hope not.  The economy has not improved, the Athletic Department has not even completed its first round of reductions, and no "financial angel" has appeared.  A number of individuals have made sincere offers to help and that impresses me a great deal.  Whether it will be enough, I do not know; I would like to give it a fair opportunity to work, however.

Working through Tom Dekar, a parent, and also one of our former swimmers, Andreea Trufasu, I write this brief memorandum to outline one way to fund the program going forward.  It will require the following:

1.  Evidence by January 15 of each year that there are gifts and pledges available to provide at least $400,000 per year for each of the next four fiscal years (August 1 - July 31).  We cannot recruit top-quality athletes if we cannot assure them that they can compete at Pepperdine for the four years of their NCAA eligibility;

2.  The Athletic Director and I do not see re-establishing the program with funds already reallocated to respond to the present - and future - economic challenge presented to the larger University community.  The University will help to raise endowment funds that could well sustain the program; and,

3.  If we are going to undertake this project, we must do so immediately and with great energy.  We can use December to make solicitations and secure pledge commitments. The University will begin collecting contributions after January 1, 2010*. Representations have been made that there are as many as 1,500 individuals willing to provide annual support.  If that is true, our task is relatively easy, especially if there are some generous lead gifts.  If not, we must know by the last day of January 2010.  If the target of at least $400,000 per fiscal year is not achieved in gifts and firm pledges by January 31, 2010, all gifts will be returned  and pledges cancelled and we will conclude our Swimming and Diving program as previously announced.

While I am hopeful, I am also a realist willing to be overwhelmingly pleased and surprised.  There is no other area of the University being offered this opportunity, but there is no other area where 35 wonderful young people are so directly impacted.

This is the offer I have discussed with a couple of representatives of those who wish to retain the program.  We simply must know if this is going to work by January 31, 2010; I do not wish to offer false hope or to create or prolong another round of disappointment.

I have written this memorandum so that others may distribute it. All gifts and pledges should to be sent to Dr. John Watson, Director of Athletics.  John can be contacted at (310) 506-4242 or you may e-mail him at  He will guide this process and provide periodic updates on the success of this effort. Meanwhile, you have my admiration for your desire to take on this unusual and admirable project.  I sincerely hope it works; in fact, my wife and I will make our own gift to the effort.

*A cash gift in 2009, deducted from the tax return for that year, will require an amended return if the gift is returned in another tax year.  A gift made in 2010 and returned in 2010 is a much simpler matter.  



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