After Michigan State Program Cut, Quentin Bishop Lands on Deck at Tampa

Quentin Bishop

After Michigan State Program Cut, Quentin Bishop Lands on Deck at Tampa

By Jessie Tobin, Swimming World Intern

Quentin Bishop, former Michigan State University (MSU) swimming and diving assistant coach, will be joining a new Spartan swim family. Bishop has accepted the role of assistant coach at the University of Tampa starting in the Fall of 2021.

Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Bishop started with swim lessons after nearly drowning as a kid. Eventually, the competitiveness of the sport convinced Bishop to pursue swimming long term. He spent his college swim career at Truman State University, a small liberal arts college in Missouri where he primarily swam distance and the 400 individual medley. 

Bishop took an extra semester to finish up his history degree, with a focus in education. He was planning on being a student assistant during his extra semester, but things changed after the head coach left two weeks before the start of the school year. The assistant coach at the time became the head coach and Bishop stepped in to become a part-time assistant coach for the team.

“After a while, I realized I wasn’t terrible at my job, and I recognized all the similar aspects that I loved about teaching in coaching swimming. I have always been a huge swim nerd, which is what got me sticking with coaching,” said Bishop.

Post-graduation, Bishop spent one season as an assistant coach for Truman, where the Bulldogs achieved a program-best, fourth place in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Before his time at MSU, Bishop spent the 2018-2019 season with Florida State University as an assistant coach. While with the Seminoles, Bishop helped lead the men to a fifth-place finish at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships (ACC) and 14th at the NCAA Championships, while the women finished sixth at the ACCs.

Bishop also spent the summer of 2018 as a Summer Swim Camp coach at Stanford University and as an assistant coach with Club Seminole.

“Something in particular that I took away coaching at so many schools was that there is a lot of different approaches and dynamics to a team’s success. It is not the same cookie-cutter hold for everything,” Bishop said. “But I also learned that there are some constants and similar characteristics. The main thing I discovered is support from the athletic department, each university creating a path for a student-athlete’s success in and out of the pool.”

After a season at Florida State, before the NCAA championships, Bishop saw that there was an opening at MSU. He landed an interview and shortly after was offered the assistant coach position by head coach Matt Gianiodis. Bishop spent two years coaching at MSU before he had to make a move to another university due to the athletic administration cutting the swimming and diving program.

The program was told in October of 2020 that the team would be cut after the 2020-2021 season, the first time the university cut a sport in 20 years.

“At first, I felt anger and shock, but I needed to get these incoming kids new homes since they had turned down other schools since committing to us,” Bishop said. “I needed to help them find new schools for them to continue their swim careers.”

MSU’s women’s swimming and diving team posted a 3.87 GPA in the fall, the best in the nation among all divisions according to The Detroit News. The men’s team posted a 3.71 GPA, sixth in the nation. Those efforts left more confusion among members of the program since the swimmers had been excelling in the classroom.

“At first, the athletic department director, Bill Beekman, said that the swim team was the only team in the Big Ten without a 50-meter pool, which is not true,” Bishop said. “The swim team had a 50-meter-pool outdoors. It was filled with dirt because of plans to build a new aquatics facility at the school. After that, he explained that the team was not performing well enough in the pool and at the conference level.” 

Bishop stated that though the team wasn’t placing at the top of the conference, the team still did better than some of the other teams at MSU. According to Bishop, the swim program represents only 1.5% of MSU’s $140 million-dollar athletic budget. MSU received a $32 million-dollar donation in February and only 6.25% of that donation is needed to keep the swim program alive.

“There still is no real reason. I mean, truth be told, it feels like Beekman just doesn’t want swimming at MSU and doesn’t see value in the program and the student-athletes,” Bishop said.

Much of the alumni felt similar disappointment toward MSU’s decision and there was a call to action to try and see how current and past swimmers could try and reverse the school’s decision. Eleven members of the women’s swim team sued the university, stating that the school violated Title IX legislation. But MSU cited infrastructure and finances in making the decision.

“More the younger kids on the team were angered, while the older swimmers were more disappointed by the university that they loved and an athletic department that they dedicated four years of their lives to was betraying them,” Bishop said.

A few of the swimmers at MSU had to transfer to continue their swim careers, with schools like Duke and Georgetown emerging as landing places. But other students decided to stay at MSU to stay with friends and not take on the hassle of transferring.

“Coach Bishop was nothing but supportive by walking around to check in on every single athlete,” said MSU swimmer Emma Inch. “He genuinely cares about our well-being outside of the pool, and that is what makes him such a successful coach and mentor.”

Bishop is now moving back down to Florida to become an assistant coach at the University of Tampa (UT), a Division II school in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC).

“The athletic department supports and cares about all sports,” Bishop said. “There is no football team at Tampa, which is nice to not have that sucking out money from the budget which was an issue at MSU. Another reason I came down to Tampa was all the great things I heard about Coach Kiner and the program.”

Head Coach Jimi Kiner previously served 14 years as an assistant coach with the UT swimming program following the end of his swim career for UT. Kiner took on the head coach position for both the men’s and women’s teams after previous head coach, Ed Brennan, stepped down last year.

Bishop is excited to be back in Florida and to be a part of a highly competitive Division II program. The University of Tampa is currently in the process of building a new pool and facility for the swim team because of a recent donation.

“I know I can learn a bunch from the coaches at Tampa,” Bishop said. “As a younger coach in the swimming community, I am always looking to learn and adapt from other coaches. Something I think I will bring is having fun on deck. Swimming is a grueling sport even though we swim outside and it is beautiful. Swimming is a tough sport.” 

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Martha mcmahon

    Great article , unfortunate for the AD not to recognize that swimming as a highly competitive team as well as a individual sport .Does the Olympics have football as an event?

    • avatar
      Swim Guy

      Well Said Martha