Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive Responds to MSU’s Supreme Court Request

by Riley Overend 11

August 07th, 2022 Big Ten, College, News

A week after Michigan State asked the Supreme Court to review its challenge to the Title IX lawsuit filed by 11 female swimmers, the Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive group has delivered their response in the ongoing fight to reinstate the varsity sport in East Lansing. 

“Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive is profoundly disappointed that MSU has chosen to take its fight with these women to the Supreme Court rather than working with our group of students, alumni, and supporters to restore the swim and dive teams, invest the millions pledged by Battle donors into the program, and reverse MSU’s terrible Title IX track record,” said the press release by Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive, which was formed by alumni and friends of the program after it was cut in October of 2020. 

“In its July 29th filing, MSU argues that measurement of the participation gap used to determine compliance with the landmark 1972 legislation is inconsistently applied and “unworkable” for a large university,” the statement continued. “In our 22 months of attempted outreach and collaboration with MSU, the only thing that has proven unworkable is the university’s willingness to reverse a bad decision based on bad data.”

Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive went on to counter MSU’s stated reasons for eliminating the program. The group pointed to nearly $200 million in donations to MSU Athletics that eased financial burdens brought on by the pandemic, as well as more than $10 million that Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive pledged in a recent budget proposal that could fund the program for around five years. 

They also said that any complaints about facilities are being addressed by the planned replacement of an aging IM West pool with a modern 50-meter pool as part of the new recreation center. Then Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive argued that building back the program is manageable considering 21 athletes are still on campus, including 13 who led MSU’s club team to a national championship in April. 

“With the funding, future facilities, and a foundation of swimmers on campus, the time to reinstate the program is now,” the statement said. “This season is well within reach despite MSU’s claims. Samantha Barany, Executive Director of the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America, submitted a declaration to District Court Judge Hala Jarbou confirming that every Big Ten swim program plus a number of other Division I schools would be “eager to schedule a meet involving a Swim and Dive team from Michigan State University during the 2022-23 season.” 

Before signing off, the Battle team referenced MSU’s checkered history when it comes to the school’s treatment of female athletes. 

“It is also time for Michigan State to get on the right side of Title IX. After many decades of disparate treatment of female athletes, a 1979 lawsuit, multiple botched investigations into sexual assaults, and the Larry Nassar conviction and aftermath, MSU needs to stop being a threat to equal access and support and start being a proponent for fair female representation into the next century. 

“Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive stands ready to make the unworkable work. Instead of dragging out a legal fight with its own students, which has cost the university more than $500,000 so far according to FOIA records, let’s end the fight and move forward.”

The earliest the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case is October. At the crux of the issue is how Title IX compliance is calculated. 

Legal experts have predicted that the Supreme Court could potentially loosen the current standard, reduce regulatory power, or even throw out the formulas for determining substantial proportionality of opportunities for women’s sports if they take the case. But that’s a big if — the Supreme Court receives between 7,000 and 8,000 petitions a year, according to the American Bar, but only chooses to hear oral arguments for about 80. 

You can view the docket here.

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wally dobler
6 months ago

My take on the novis president of MSU he put yhe cost of a univ wide swim complex as part of varsity schlorshps do the Varsity golf people pay to operate the golf cours does varsity tennis men womens pay to maintain the building?????

The White Whale
7 months ago

At this point it seems like MSU just doesn’t want the appearance of having egg on their face by bringing the program back. It’s either that or something they simply don’t want to make public, but I can’t imagine what that would be. The swim team obviously was always near the bottom of the Big Ten in recent years, but always did well academically. It’s just bizarre that the university administration seems so dead set on these programs being eliminated permanently.

Spartan Swim Team Alum
7 months ago

The school needs new ADMINISTRATIVE leadership. The team has not been supported by the Athletic Department for many years. John Narcy and Richard Fetters put out many Big Ten Champions. There was once a long wall lined with NUMEROUS All American certificates that have lately all been removed and hidden away. Truth is the swim and dive team put the rest of the programs to shame in academics and frequently in athletics. Bring it back with up to date facilities and an administration and an athletic department that supports ATHLETICS not just money. The goal is a healthy mind in a healthy, not a ruined body and neglected mind while the U holds a handful of cash. BRING THEM BACK… Read more »

7 months ago

What a joke of a school

Time For Barta To Go
7 months ago

See the nickname.

Like Iowa, Michigan State simply wants swimming and diving to go away.

For some recent history ….. Iowa lost a court fight and the women’s team was restored – temporarily. When the clock runs out (2027, I believe) on the court order, then no doubt that Barta will torpedo the women at Iowa. Shameful.

Like Iowa, Michigan State is hoping that fatigue will wear down this advocacy group, with lots of legal challenges. Worth it to them – why? To make swimming and diving go away.

Shameful. Only football and basketball count at Michigan State too, I guess.

7 months ago

I graduated from MSU in 2018 and all the title IX logistics aside, MSU shouldn’t entertain a swim and dive program unless they are genuinely serious in making them competitive. The program hasn’t won a conference title in almost 40 years, and given that Michigan essentially has first pick on all the talent in the state so building a team off good Hs talent is moot. The coaching staff has been TERRIBLE for the better part of the last 20 or so years, to the point where a majority of the men’s records are held by international students (nothing against the international guys, I’m thankful they were able to get our school records to even NCAA qualifying times) who’re the… Read more »

Swim Supporter
Reply to  SpartanAlumni
7 months ago

Wow, by your logic on success MSU should also cut 75% of their current sports programs. Also, how does Ann Arbor not have first pick on all the talent in Michigan??????

Matthew Gianiodis
Reply to  SpartanAlumni
7 months ago

Spartan alum, not going to argue with any of your opinions but just to clarify your assessment on the majority (more than half) of men’s records being held by international students. Unless you define international as out of state your are woefully wrong. In fact, counting relays spots 1 of 34 records are held by an international student That is 2% which is very far from a majority:
50 Free: Payton Woods Illinois
100 Free: Aidan Farley Illinois
200 Free: Aidan Farley Illinois
500 Free: Steve Leisner Illinois
1000 Free: Steve Leisner Illinois
1650 Free: Steve Leisner Illinois
100 Back: Jacob Jarzen Illinois
200 Back: Jacob Jarzen Illinois
100 Brst: Alec Kandt Minnesota… Read more »

The White Whale
Reply to  Matthew Gianiodis
7 months ago

Thanks for setting the record straight, Coach G.

7 months ago

My hope is that the SCOTUS doesn’t hear the case. I agree with the legal experts referenced in the article. I don’t think the current court would do anything but loosen up Title IX requirements.

Jacob Rubin
Reply to  Swimdad
7 months ago

The unfortunate truth 🙁

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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