Michigan State, Battling for Program Reinstatement, Secures Scheduling Agreements

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Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona

Michigan State, Battling for Program Reinstatement, Secures Scheduling Agreements

Michigan State, which continues its battle to have the university reinstate the men’s and women’s swimming and diving program, has secured scheduling agreements for the 2022-23 season with the entire Big Ten as well as seven other Division I programs.

In consultation with the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America, each coach in the Big Ten confirmed their willingness to schedule Michigan State this season if the university were to reverse course and reinstate the program. Also listed on a draft schedule released Thursday by the Battle for Spartan Swim Dive are invites to the Akron Invitationals in October and December, the Purdue Invitational and Ohio State Fall Invitational in November and the Iowa Invitational in December.

Other nonleague invitations have been extended by Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Oakland and Valparaiso.

Thursday’s schedule release may have largely symbolic applications in the ongoing court case, in which Michigan State has been found to be in violation of its Title IX requirements to students by failing to provide equitable athletic opportunities. That ruling, in August, did not, however, come with a court-mandated requirement to reinstate the programs.

But it does demonstrate again both Michigan State swimming’s place in the college ecosystem and the support the program has gotten nationally in a robust campaign to advocate for reinstatement. It also refutes a key tenet of a counterargument by the Michigan State legal team, which objected to the August decision by saying that creating a schedule for the team in 2022-23 was unduly burdensome, calling its viability “speculative hypotheticals.”

Michigan State announced in Oct. 2020 that it would cut swimming and diving at the end of the 2020-21 season. The Spartans continued on last year as a club team that won a national title and have secured pledges to fund the majority of the program, as cost-saving was cited by the university in its original decision for cutting the program.

The university is on the defensive, with the board of trustees attempting to oust president Samuel Stanley Jr., in part because of his handling of Title IX investigations. Bill Beekman, the athletic director presiding over the decision, left that post in 2021 to take a vice president role.

The Battle for Spartan Swim Dive campaign believes it has the pieces in place to restart swimming immediately. There are 21 swimmers on campus, enough to field a team in 2022-23, combined with the draft schedule. The campaign has raised $10.85 million in pledges to fund the program and upgrades to the aquatic center, for an athletic department that has fielded more than $200 million in donations in the last 18 months to go toward other programs.

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