A group from Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive put together a budget proposal for Michigan State’s leaders featuring statistics and prospective donors, a major step in the fight to bring back the swim and dive program that was cut in October of 2020.
Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive has secured about $10 million in prospective donations — $8.5 million from two anonymous donors and $1 million in pledges from alumni, parents, and supporters — enough to fund the program for around five years, according to swim parent and trustee candidate Mike Balow.
“That (proposal) is the culmination of many months of trying to figure out how to create, I call it, a win-win-win situation where the university wins, the student-athletes win, and the alumni win,” Balow said. “It tries to answer all of the objections that have been raised thus far about why MSU can’t bring the men’s and women’s swimming and diving program back.”
Balow noted that the lack of a proper facility seemed to be a significant factor in former athletic director Bill Beekman’s decision to eliminate the program nearly two years ago. But now the university is looking into adding a 50-meter pool inside its new Health, Wellness, and Fitness Center, although The State News reported that no final decisions have been made yet.
“The only stated reason for cutting the team, still, was the pool,” Balow said. “To this date, it’s the only written reason we’ve gotten. What I believe is that no one’s even objecting that MSU is not going to build a new pool. Everybody is admitting that MSU is going to build a new 50-meter pool.”
Last May, Beekman cited the athletic department’s $80 million revenue shortfall over the past year as the main reason for cutting the swim and dive program. Balow pointed out that Michigan State is soon set to double its payout from the Big Ten if the expanded conference’s new media rights deal exceeds $1 billion as expected.
“The question begs to be asked: What is going to happen with all that extra revenue?” Balow said.
Balow’s daughter, Sophia, is currently suing the school for violating Title IX by cutting the women’s team. On Sunday, she and fellow former swimmers Travis Nitkiewicz, Kasey Venn, and Peter Corsetti met with Michigan State President Samuel Stanley Jr. and Senior Vice President for Student Life & Engagement Vennie Gore to review the budget proposal. The quartet of ex-varsity swimmers carried the Spartans’ club team to the club national title in April.
“(Stanley) agreed to review the proposal,” Sophia said. “It seemed like he wasn’t exactly willing to budge on the situation at that time. He seemed pretty dead set that the decision was final and there was gonna be not really a chance for a discussion to reinstate the team.”
The elder Balow and other group members from Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive are slated to meet July 20 with Rebecca Surian, Executive Associate Athletics Director of the Spartan Fund, and Divian Leung, Executive Director of University Advancement.
“Once this presentation has time to ferment a little bit and settle in people’s minds, and they can really see what is being offered here and how there’s absolutely no downside to the university,” Balow said. “We might have something. We still have time to have next season which is important to us because if we can have next season, it’s a bridge to the future.”