A longtime rival is joining the Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive in advocating for the program’s reinstatement ahead of Michigan State’s Oct. 1 fundraising deadline.
Outgoing University of Michigan head coach Mike Bottom has pledged to “help recruit these athletes and assemble a coaching staff that will move MSU into a conference and national power.”
“A new aquatic facility with a 50-meter pool and diving towers will elevate the university, giving MSU a showcase venue to serve its entire community,” Bottom wrote. “This U of M coach is setting aside the rivalry for the greater good. In my mind I see future Spartans, aspiring to climb to the heights of their potential — in the pool, as teammates and scholars — and make a once great program even greater.”
Bottom’s show of support comes with less than two months remaining until MSU’s $26.5 million fundraising target is supposed to be met. Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive has raised just over $5 million so far, almost enough to cover half of the program’s operating expenses for the first five years ($6.5 million). The remaining $20 million was only recently announced in June to fund pool upgrades in the new student recreation center.
“Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive is confident we will meet the previously identified operating cost target of $6.5 million by the Oct. 1 deadline, and we will be an active partner with Michigan State to identify potential donors who can help bridge the infrastructure gap toward construction of a top-tier facility that will serve the Spartan community,” Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive told SwimSwam.
An MSU spokesperson told SwimSwam that if Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive doesn’t reach its fundraising requirement, the new $200 million recreation center will still include a pool, but it would only be for student recreation instead of a varsity program.
Last summer, Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive said it secured $8.5 million from two anonymous donors, but those donations are estate bequests and endowments that are not eligible to fund operating expenses. The group says it is still negotiating with MSU about whether those prospective funds could be used to finance pool upgrades. The school could also sell naming rights to parts of the facility to help make up the remaining $21 million.
Meanwhile, Bottom continues to find ways to stay busy in the sport of swimming after announcing his departure from Ann Arbor in May. In June, he joined Queens (NC) in an advisory role to head coach Jeff Dugdale. At the time, Dugdale said that Bottom will be “working closely” with Queens, but that he could transition to making a bigger impact through different avenues outside of the program (such as helping revive the Spartans’ programs).
MSU is soon set to receive a lot more revenue thanks to the Big Ten’s new media rights deal worth more than $1 billion annually. Member schools are projected to eventually receive $100 million a year, nearly double the $54.3 million paid out during the most recent fiscal year (2019-20) not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last December, an MSU board trustee said the university did not see a viable path to bringing the program back. Then in January, MSU reached a settlement with 11 former members of the women’s swim team, which stopped short of guaranteeing reinstatement but did provide several Title IX protections for the future. Last August, MSU was found to have violated Title IX by cutting the Spartans’ swim and dive program, and the university’s appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected in December.
Check out the full message from Bottom below:
“As the soon-to-be retired head coach of the University of Michigan Swim and Dive team, I know a bit about potential. I developed champions for more than 30 years as a college coach, the last 15 at Michigan. I helped move athletes to their potential, resulting in over a dozen national champions, 12 B1G team championships, 27 Olympic medals, and two NCAA team titles.
I am writing to tell you there is tremendous potential at Michigan State, and together we can unlock it.
The current administration has challenged supporters of MSU Swim and Dive to raise more than $26 million by Oct. 1, money to help run the reinstated teams and construct a top-tier indoor pool. Meeting this target would not only bring back the Men’s and Women’s teams, but would build something great for all Spartans. I want to be a part of it, and am “turning GREEN” to ask you to join the team.
I know we can create a place where our state’s young swimmers and divers, as well as athletes from around the globe, can aspire to compete. I can help recruit these athletes and assemble a coaching staff that will move MSU into a conference and national power. A new aquatic facility with a 50-meter pool and diving towers will elevate the university, giving MSU a showcase venue to serve its entire community.
This U of M coach is setting aside the rivalry for the greater good. In my mind I see future Spartans, aspiring to climb to the heights of their potential – in the pool, as teammates and scholars – and make a once great program even greater.
Over $5 million has been raised to date. The urgency to move is upon us. You, as a donor, have the potential to create dreams, goals, and aspirations for these future Spartans. To join me, please visit battleforspartanswimanddive.com.
Go Green from a Wolverine!