Michigan State Reverses Course on Swim and Dive Reinstatement

by Riley Overend 107

December 19th, 2022 Big Ten, College, News

originally published Dec 19, 2022

A Michigan State trustee said that the school will not bring back its swimming and diving program during a board meeting on Friday.

The decision came after court rulings determined MSU violated Title IX by cutting the Spartans’ swim and dive program at the end of the 2020-21 season. However, the most recent ruling in August stopped short of forcing the school to reinstate the program. MSU’s appeal for the Supreme Court to review the case was rejected last Monday.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of MSU’s appeal meant the school must submit a court-ordered compliance plan within the next two weeks. Having refused to reinstate the program, MSU’s options for compliance appear limited with the case set for trial next month.

MSU claimed that its swimming and diving program required an unaffordable facility upgrade in order to be competitive in the Big Ten. MSU board trustee Melanie Foster maintained that position on Friday, saying the school does not plan on making a major investment into new aquatic facilities. However, she reversed course from just a couple months ago when she said university officials would reach out to athletes and supporters to “strategize a plan forward for the team in the next academic year.”

“We do not see a viable path to establish a swim and dive program,” Foster said. “Most prohibitively, without sufficient existing fundraising, there is not a path to build a new competition pool without assessing a fee to the entire student body, something we do not wish to do. We appreciate the advocacy those supporting the swim and dive program have shown. While we know this is not the answer supporters are seeking, we feel we owe an honest, transparent and definitive statement on the issue.”

The Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive group condemned the announcement and refuted several points made by MSU officials. The week prior, a group of swimmers met with interim MSU president Teresa Woodruff and other university leaders, who reportedly told them that the problem was money. If supporters of the program could fund half of its operating expenses over the next five years (about $6.5 million), reinstatement could be negotiated, according to the Battle group. Supporters had previously sent administrators a budget proposal detailing $10 million in prospective funds from donors.

The Battle group said that athletic director Alan Haller revealed a different reason for not bringing the program back during a Dec. 1 meeting with those same swimmers. Haller said the holdup had to do with the new standards for Olympic sport programs at MSU, including team nutritionists, chartered plane travel, and designated athletic trainers.

“The Battle group finds these discrepancies by Woodruff, Haller, and the university leaders deceitful and disappointing, but not surprising,” the Battle group said. “The lack of transparency in this process shows the new leadership is the same as the old leadership at Michigan State, and all the talk of transparency and equality is just that — talk.

“The outstanding student-athletes who have been valiantly fighting since their teams were cut in October 2020 have been ignored, dismissed, and fed false hope in recent weeks — only to have the door again slammed in their faces without any warning,” the statement continued. “We find the Board of Trustees and President Woodruff’s comments this morning defeatist and they fly in the face of ‘Spartans Will.’”

The Battle group refuted Woodruff’s claim that the proposed new rec center cannot accommodate a varsity program. It said that the pool size and diving springboards are consistent with successful programs such as Notre Dame and Northwestern.

“In addition, the current IM West facility is regulation size and capable of housing the program, as it has for over 60 years, until the new facility opens,” the Battle group added.

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John MacNeill
7 months ago

This is appauling that a Big Ten school has to do away with any non revenue sport. It is quite embarrassing as well. I think it should send a message to any athlete of any sport thinking about attending MSU. You should look elsewhere. It clearly shows mismanagement and bias toward specific school sports programs. I played football at MSU in the 90’s under Perles and they clearly are dumping too many dollars toward the current football staff which are clearly not producing and are way over paid. Alan Haller has no qualified experience to be a AD and that is another part of the problem. Unqualified people will make bad decisions and he clearly is revealing his bias toward… Read more »

9 months ago

I have lost all respect for MSU. Football and basketball are not the only sports out there; and a pool serves not only the swim team but also the community (faculty and staff for exercise, swim lessons, etc). This is a Big 10 university that should support swimming! It is a mainstream sport enjoyed by millions. This is a state surrounded by huge Great Lakes!

YES, they should build a new modern 50Mx25y competitive pool (as part of a complete aquatic facility, includinga recreational outdoor pool). In the meantime, until that new facility is complete, they must reinstate both swim teams (Mens/Womens) and act like a real Big 10 university.

9 months ago

Dear Michigan State Swimmers,

You are always welcomed with the boys of SMU here in Dallas.

We have a great coach, a great program, and most importantly, the weather is beautiful.

9 months ago

The NCAA has more money than many developing nations. Swimming—like other “non-revenue” sports— are part of our Olympic team and should be supported by the NCAA. Football is profitable for only a select few schools despite their ridiculous outlays of cash. And sports are about more than the revenue generated: they’re about excelling as a student athlete both in the classroom and on the field. This football-centric view of the world is very short-sighted. Princeton University has a decent football program for the Ivy League but due to a commitment from the school and loyal alumni it has excellent “non-revenue” sports programs that can compete with Power Five schools and routinely sends athletes to the Olympics.

9 months ago


Interesting read. The editor-in-chief of swimswam being against reinstatement of the MSU team and twitter-beefing with the MSU coach was not on my 2022 Bingo Board.

Reply to  TheMenguin
9 months ago

You think I’m against reinstatement of the MSU team? Hot take.

Reply to  Braden Keith
9 months ago

At least you didn’t refute the twitter beef allegations lmaooooo

Bear Down
Reply to  TheMenguin
9 months ago

pointing out that MSU swimming is bad program does not mean it shouldn’t exist, it was absolutely a bad program (possibly the worst power 5 men’s team with scholarships?)

Reply to  Braden Keith
9 months ago

You’re right. From that thread, it seems like you’re against college swimming itself… given that swim (or any other olympic sport for that matter) will NEVER be a revenue sport, no matter how hard they try. To an athletic department, the argument isn’t about facilities or coaching, it’s about whether you want to provide for student athletes whose program is operating at a loss. And frankly, most college swim programs are.

Dee Septer
Reply to  TheMenguin
9 months ago

This program has been a joke for 20 years and nobody cared about it until it was cut. They were uncompetitive not because of facilities but because of their terrible coaching staff and how they conducted themselves. Good riddance

VA Steve
9 months ago

Not a surprise. Compare with the University of Maryland. Perfectly good facility used for USA swimming events regularly, and with a good history, and poof, no program.

Reply to  VA Steve
9 months ago

The DMV club teams greatly benefitted from being able to compete at their pool!

Reply to  HOOlove
9 months ago

DMV (Potomac Valley LSC) club teams STILL have the majority of their championship meets at the phenomenal UMD pool. But it’s too bad the only power-5 school in the DMV doesn’t have a team.

Tiger Swammer
9 months ago

I’m getting PTSD of what they did to Clemson 2010-2012. Same exact reasons – they felt we couldn’t be competitive without a 50m pool and they weren’t going to spend the money to build it. We offered to pay for it ourselves and they still said no. And then our pool broke down for a full year and we didn’t even have a pool to train at and still sent people to NCAAs.

When a university is done with a swimming program, unfortunately there’s not much outside sources can do. Still, wishing all the swimmers and their families the best of luck <3

9 months ago

Just my 2 cents here ok!? Could the Battle Group engage with Teresa Sullivan? She’s a delightful person and former UVA President now Interim Provost at MSU and was very supportive of the swim and dive teams at UVA.

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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