University of Memphis’ Aquatics Facilities Embroiled in Political Drama

Update: the veto for the funding was overridden, and the city will go forward with its contribution to the new pool updates.

The University of Memphis’ aquatics facility has become the centerpiece of a political battle in the city, with University President M. David Rudd and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris publicly sparring over funding for renovations.

Harris has vetoed a grant that would provide $1 million of funding to the University of Memphis because several local groups called on him to oppose the project until the University of Memphis presents a timeline to raise the school’s minimum wage to what they consider a “living wage.”

Curently there are over 300 university employees making $11.11 an hour. Shelby County calculates that a “living wage” is $11.07 per hour for a single adult with no children and $22.09 for an adult with one child.

“I believe issues of poverty that continue to persist in our community are interconnected to decisions like this one,” Harris wrote in a letter explaining his decision. “Most of the University of Memphis employees in question are women and most are African-American. Many of these workers, no doubt, have children and families who rely on their work.”

In response, Rudd said that the veto “represents a potential serious ethical breach for our University and a potential violation of an accreditation standard,” and declared that he reports to the Board of Trustees, not the county mayor.

The Shelby County Commissioners will vote on a veto override at their July 22nd meeting. Rudd wrote in a letter to Harris that the university already has a plan in place to increase the hourly wage to $15 an hour in the coming years.

The University of Memphis does not currently have a varsity or collegiate club swimming program, put they do sponsor a club water polo team. Their facilities also are host to the USA Swimming club Memphis Tiger Swimming. The school’s aquatics complex has an outdoor 50-meter pool, an indoor 50-meter pool, a 4-foot deep aqua aerobics pool, and an outdoor 25-yard diving well.

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Not getting political but why would you hire some for $22 an hour when you could do it for $11 an hour?

Muddy Canary

This is exactly the problem with American thinking… Just because it makes sense from a money standpoint for the University, a multi-billion dollar company, doesn’t mean it’s good for an employee or the well being of a program’s fluidity. The USA tries to pimp out consumers for as much money as possible rather than conducting an exchange that is more comfortable for the consumer. USA operates on a “How much can I get out of this?” standard, instead of “What price is comfortable for both parties to succeed?”. It’s pathetic. $11 doesn’t even buy you a movie ticket.


Maybe the mayor should do more to attract employers to Memphis to create more competition for workers.

Muddy Canary

Beale Street talks


so your goal is for people to make enough to buy one movie ticket per hour of work? sounds logical.

Muddy Canary

You’ve missed the point if that’s what you took from the statement.


Hahaha. Yeah….. the US, being the most powerful and robust economy the world has ever seen, surely could learn many economic principles from you. Capitalism has failed…… again pointing out that we are currently the most powerful and robus economy the world has ever seen.


Call me old fashioned, but I do believe that if your school has an indoor 50m pool you should have at least one varsity aquatic sport

Coach ID

It’s one of the handful of schools with 2x50m pools on campus.


*cough cough* MARYLAND *cough cough*


If only UnderArmour made swimwear….

Less backstroke

I didn’t know counties had mayors.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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