Swim and Dive Supporters Send Budget Proposal to Michigan State Leaders

by Riley Overend 20

July 11th, 2022 Big Ten, College, News

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.”

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Hayden Bartz
4 months ago

Bring the team back, build the new pool, a new facility will help bring in recruits.

All about the Green
4 months ago

Absolutely love this. MSU was stupid to cut it.

NB1
4 months ago

on the bright side, a non-existing swim team can’t an abusive coach problem

McCaffree Forever!
4 months ago

Way to go MSU swimmers and divers! Every alumni swimmer and diver is so proud of the work you’re doing to bring back our program. Never give up.

I swam for the Spartans and it breaks my heart that the athletic department pulled the rug out from under all those kids. I also knew a heck of a lot of EMU swimmers and I weep for the dissolution of their program too.

Go Green!

Louiggi
4 months ago

just a short 5-6 years observation from the Michigan pool deck.
you may dislike what you read, and it is pure Michigan swimming thought. When you see that collegiate sport is not improving for an extended period of time (B1G 10, NCAA – USS levels), no goals in sights, no vision nor expectations (from the program nor the athletes), you see that the program is moving backwards – someone has to accept the responsibility and consequences. It hurts to see the program shuts down due to …whatever reasons apply within the university.

In this case – if the former MSU Coaching Staff placed a half of the honest-coaching passion and effort into the sport of swimming, perhaps, the MSU… Read more »

oxyswim
Reply to  Louiggi
4 months ago

If coaches aren’t making progress with a program, it’s on administrators to find new coaches, not to cut the program. But those Nassar settlements were expensive and swimming & diving is always going to be an easy scapegoat.

At a public institution, if there’re suddenly flush with cash, there’s really no good argument for not fielding more sports and improving facilities for non revenue sports.

DeepSouthAtl
Reply to  Louiggi
4 months ago

There’s more truth here than people will want to admit.

Sean
Reply to  Louiggi
4 months ago

One of the responsibilities of effective leadership includes identifying problems and putting plans in place to solve those problems. I am referring to the athletic department leadership. If the coaching staff was ineffective, when was this problem identified, what plans were put in place to correct the problem, what caused the plan to fail and who was responsible for the failure? If the program is reinstated, these mistakes cannot be made again. An effective coaching staff needs to be hired and then help accountable.

Matthew Gianiodis
Reply to  Louiggi
4 months ago

Louiggi- some advice. If you’re going to take shots at people for not having effort and passion into their profession, maybe you should 1- use your real name so the world knows who is taking shots. and 2- become informed on the entire situation before you open your mouth/taps on some computer keys.

Feel free to email me [email protected] and I will let you know all about the effort and passion my staff put into their work.

DeepSouthAtl
4 months ago

I’ll believe it when I see it. MSU didn’t support the program to be competitive at all when it was in place, they “might” build a new pool with no stands (???) and while the $10m is an impressive raise, it won’t be enough to endow the program.

I’ll bet that they start women’s lax if they lose the Title 9 suit vs re starting swim.

This one and UCONN men’s swim were the easiest Covid era program cuts to see coming.

Last edited 4 months ago by DeepSouthAtl
oxyswim
Reply to  DeepSouthAtl
4 months ago

There needs to be a bigger push to get Iowa men’s swimming reinstated with how good the facilities are there and all this extra cash floating around.

Time For Barta To Go
Reply to  oxyswim
4 months ago

See the nickname.

ButlerBuck
4 months ago

We were visiting Liberty University last fall and went to a tri meet. Penn State and East Carolina were the other two teams. East Carolina had maybe 10 girls. I asked one of the parents what was going on–why so few swimmers. She told me the school had cut the program, then the kids had sued the school for Title IX violations, and they won. It would take a couple of years to build the program back up.

If MSU can afford to pay a football coach millions of dollars, then turn around and give him a raise after one year on the job, they can afford to have a swim program.

Meeeee
Reply to  ButlerBuck
4 months ago

Kick in the teeth is a Big Ten network look at msu football and the team is having a training session in the msu pool!

Meeeee
4 months ago

Happy to see them still fighting. Eastern Michigan alum and former head coach seem to have given up.

thezwimmer
Reply to  Meeeee
4 months ago

To be fair, EMU’s athletic department is a little bit smaller than MSU’s

Meeeee
Reply to  thezwimmer
4 months ago

Nothing to do with athletic dept. it’s the alum base. There are tons of former emu swimmers coaching hs swimming in Michigan. Far more around than may swim alum.

DMSWIM
Reply to  Meeeee
4 months ago

High school coaches aren’t exactly rolling in money to be able to fundraise.

ArtVanDeLegh10
Reply to  Meeeee
4 months ago

The vast majority lose the battle because it’s usually not just $. Many swim teams can get their alumni to raise enough $, but there are usually other factors at stake as well.

My program was cut years ago and we fought but it didn’t matter how much we raised, we weren’t getting the program back.

DMSWIM
Reply to  Meeeee
4 months ago

Also, EMU doesn’t have two anonymous donors that have contributed $8.5 million.

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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