The intercollegiate women’s swim team at North Carolina A&T State University has come to an end, leaving just one HBCU in the entire United States—Howard University—with a Division I swimming and diving program.

In August 2013, A&T’s director of athletics, Earl M. Hilton III, announced the Greensboro, N.C., school would phase out its intercollegiate women’s swim team by this year. The changes reflected some of the goals of the school’s long-range strategic plan, “2020 A&T Preeminence,” which was introduced by Chancellor Harold Martin in 2011.

“Our swimming program has produced great athletes and outstanding citizens in our society. Many of our swimmers have been tremendously successful after graduating from North Carolina A&T. We must, however, move our department to where every athlete has the opportunity to compete for a conference and NCAA title,” Hilton said in a statement at the time. “I don’t see a scenario where the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) will sponsor swimming in the foreseeable future.”

Efforts were made to save the program, including a petition by Jasmine Gurley of Atlanta.

“The Lady Aggies are the last of a dying breed and we cannot let them go without a fight,” Gurley wrote. “Swimming is not the most common sport in the African-American community or the MEAC conference, which is exactly the reason our team MUST remain. We are representing our race, where we often go unseen. To add, there are thousands of young swimmers in this country who train all their lives to attain swimming scholarships in hopes of getting a collegiate education. The two HBCUs with teams have provided that opportunity when it otherwise would not have been an option.”

Howard University currently boasts 16 women and 11 men on their swimming and diving rosters. Head coach Nicholas Askew, a 2001 graduate of the university and alum of the Bison swim team, was interviewed by USA Swimming for a Black History Month feature. He discussed the challenge of recruiting athletes and building a quality program in a sport that often lacks minorities.

“With us being an HBCU, we’re looking to build a team that is a reflection of the University,” he said, “and when you look at the demographics at the elite level, it’s a hurdle that we’re trying to get over to establish ourselves as one of the top programs in the country.”