Wednesday, June 19, 2024

EDITORIAL: It’s time, MSU. Reinstate the men’s and women’s swim and dive teams

The MSU Swim Club float to save the MSU Swim and Dive Team in the MSU Homecoming parade on October 1, 2021 on Farm Lane in East Lansing.
The MSU Swim Club float to save the MSU Swim and Dive Team in the MSU Homecoming parade on October 1, 2021 on Farm Lane in East Lansing.

MSU Athletics announced in October 2020 that it would cut the men’s and women’s swim and dive as varsity sports following their 2020-21 season.

That was almost two years ago.

We were in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that rocked the university financially— Michigan State was in a $54 million deficit just months in. In fact, we all found out about the cut from the comfort of our bedrooms as classes were still mostly online.

We’re not in that space anymore. 

Campus is booming and thriving, pumping more money into the university. The Big Ten is expanding, bringing in future revenue dollars from UCLA and USC fans. Donors like Mat Ishbia are giving millions to the athletic program, helping stabilize a university impacted by COVID-19.

We’ve re-evaluated housing, tuition freezes, in-person classes, mask requirements and more as we emerge on the other side of the pandemic.

Stanford University reinstated 11 – yes, 11 – varsity teams that were cut mid-pandemic. Iowa University reinstated their women’s teams after a Title IX lawsuit, the same kind of lawsuit MSU is facing. They re-evaluated their priorities and decided what was best for their student athletes.

Now, it's time to re-evaluate and reinstate the swim and dive team as a varsity sport.

Swim and dive parent and advocate Mike Balow said it costs roughly $2 million a year to run the swim and dive teams at MSU. Swim and dive only relies on a few pieces of equipment: uniforms, swim caps and, most importantly, a pool.

The IM West pool, where the team practiced prior to being cut, is ready for its next update. Cited as one of the expenses that went into the decision to cut the team, the pool seems to be MSU administration’s anchor into why reinstating the team is implausible.

However, the team continues to thrive even without newer facilities. MSU’s swim and dive club team recently won the national club championship, practicing in the same facilities the administration claimed were unfit to support a competitive team.

This also shows MSU has competition-ready swimmers, who, with a few hours of practice, could make MSU a competitive swim school. It means the previous varsity swimmers have been keeping in shape, just waiting for MSU to admit they were wrong for cutting the team.

The swimmers shouldn’t get the bottom of the barrel though; Battle of MSU Swim and Dive has recently raised $1 million in donor — alumni, parents and supporters — pledges to fund the swim and dive team and, more importantly, work toward repairing the outdoor 50m pool needed for the athletes to be competition ready. This doesn’t count the two anonymous donors that have pledged $8.5 million together, equating to almost $10 million waiting for these teams.

But the Spartan Fund doesn’t currently allow donors to donate to a program that doesn’t exist, so MSU is missing out on millions of dollars that can fix the problem.

Additionally, former athletic director Bill Beekman said in a press release that the Spartan’s only swim and dive (men’s) Big Ten title came in 1957. 

However, there are other teams within MSU with the same struggling record. MSU wrestling hasn’t seen a title since 1972. Men’s cross country? 1971. 

Some of the women’s teams haven’t seen a Big Ten Championship since they were sanctioned by the league office in 1982, according to the MSU Athletics website. MSU Hockey hasn’t left the bottom tier of the Big Ten rankings in the entirety of former Head Coach Danton Cole’s tenure.

Admittedly, all are a little more recent than swim and dive, but still not great.

We’re not advocating for these teams to be cut; We’re just putting the swim and dive record into perspective.

They deserve another chance to win Big Ten titles, compete against other schools and, for some, become Olympic swimmers.

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They deserve another chance to be student athletes at the university they are committed to.

Admit you were wrong, MSU. Reinstate the swim and dive team. 

It’s time.

The State News Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief SaMya Overall, Managing Editor Dina Kaur, Social Media Manager Lauren Snyder, Copy Chief Jada Vasser, Photo Editors Devin Anderson-Torrez and Rahmya Trewern and Diversity Rep. Elle Fromm.


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