Michigan State University to Cut Swimming & Diving After 2020-21 Season

Sources have confirmed to Swimming World that Michigan State University has cut swimming & diving effective after the 2020-21 season.

This is the eighth school in Division I to cut swimming and diving this year alone as Michigan State joins Division I schools East CarolinaConnecticutBoise StateDartmouthIowa, William & Mary and La Salle in cutting swimming teams to ease the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. (William & Mary this week reinstated its women’s program.)

The university confirmed the decision Thursday afternoon. In a letter to the community by athletic director Bill Beekman, it cited “a financial crisis unlike any we’ve ever seen” with a best-case scenario of a $30 million shortfall. From the statement:

“We understand that the news is devastating to our outstanding student-athletes in these sports, as well as to their coaches, but with every thoughtful analysis it became increasingly clear that we were not positioned to offer the best experience to our student-athletes, either now or in the future.

“Today’s decision does not end our commitment to the student-athletes and staff within the swimming and diving programs. Scholarship commitments will be honored beyond this year for any student-athletes who choose to finish their undergraduate degree at Michigan State. For student-athletes who wish to transfer to another institution, Michigan State Athletics will help them with their transition. Contracts for all coaches will be honored (through June 30, 2021). During this transition, and for the duration of the student-athletes’ time at Michigan State, the athletic department will offer counseling and mental health services for those who would find them of assistance.”

The Spartans are coached by Matt Gianiodis, who has been head coach in East Lansing since 2003.

Michigan State’s last individual Big Ten champion came in 2002 when diver Carly Weiden won the women’s three-meter title. The last swimming champion was Jami Archambault, who won the 100 backstroke in 1997. On the men’s side, Steve Leissner’s 200 IM title in 1990 was the last time a Spartan stood atop the Big Ten podium.

Jarzen,J.

Jacob Jarzen is the last Michigan State male swimmer to qualify for NCAAs. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

On the national stage, Michigan State last celebrated Ken Walsh’s NCAA title in the 100 freestyle in 1967 as well as Julie Farrell’s 3m diving title in 1991.

Michigan State last had a representative at the NCAA meet in 2013 when Jacob Jarzen finished in 10th place in the 100 butterfly. He also scored the year prior in the 100 fly and 200 back. The last woman to make the meet was diver Madeline Sewell in 2017, who placed 46th in the one-meter.

Beekman cited the lack of funding to make the Spartans consistently competitive a reason for the decision.

In making our decision, we took a hard look at whether we were in position to offer a first-class experience with championship level support to our student-athletes. While they receive first-class academic support, medical care, strength and conditioning and nutritional amenities, it’s become abundantly clear that we are not able to support their dreams for excellence in the pool. Despite the best efforts of our dedicated coaching staff, led by head coach Matt Gianiodis, our swimmers and divers are limited by the facilities at their disposal. Having always competed in a smaller than regulation pool, the recent closure of the outdoor pool at IM West left our athletes without a regulation size pool in which to even train. It’s a situation that limited our coaches’ ability to attract talented student-athletes and hampered our student-athletes ability to maximize their potential. These are not scenarios created by a national pandemic, but rather an understanding that there is not a reasonable expectation of a better situation in the future. Unfortunately, this all led us to our inevitable decision.

Last season, the Michigan State women’s swimming and diving team celebrated its 50th season.

Jennifer Parks was a longtime coach at Michigan State, beginning in 1973 and ending in 1988 with a stint at Eastern Michigan in the middle. She led the Spartans to two Big Ten titles, followed by two runner-up titles. She was an Olympic trials qualifier before coaching and a Masters Swimming national champion afterward, never straying far from the sport.

She was a driving force in the celebration.

“I had a fabulous time enjoying the meet with the 60-plus former swimmers and divers,” Parks said. “We had a great time reminiscing about the fun we had in this great sport.”

While coaching, she had many All-Americans, including Jane (Manchester) Meyers, a national champion diver. Meyers was an Olympic trials qualifier and has been one of the top high school diving coaches in Michigan for several decades, sending dozens of divers to NCAA Division I programs from West Ottawa High.

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Jennifer Parks (left), Shelby Lacy and Jane Meyers at the MSU 50th anniversary. Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

She sat with Parks for much of the meet and enjoyed connecting with former teammates.

“It was great to see some of my old team members and I wish more of them could have come, but I know many live so far away. I have so many wonderful memories in that pool and every time I walk in there, they all come rushing back in. I made many lifelong friends, got a great education, learned a lot about myself and had much success on the boards there,” Meyers said. “I had a great coach in John Narcy and I really blossomed on the team. The women back then had to swim separately (and I mean a totally different, not as good, pool) from the men, but John took some of us better women divers in and let us workout with him and the guys team. I guess this past weekend made me realize just how much inequality there really was between the men’s and women’s programs. I was blessed to have things work out as they did for me.

“Diving has been a part of my life for almost 54 years, whether it be a participant or coach, and I have to say I don’t regret a minute of it.”

Meyers and Parks, who was a volunteer assistant coach at West Ottawa High School for a few years as well, helped shape a new generation of swimmers and divers.

113 comments

    • Andy Gallion

      Karin Knudson O’Connell if even the Big Ten is losing swimming and diving programs, you know it’s just going to get worse and worse

    • Karin Knudson O

      Andy Gallion yes, so very sad for all the athletes and the ones who aspire to be college athletes!

    • Andy Gallion

      Karin Knudson O’Connell my daughter is a HS senior. Her #1 college criteria was “are you going to be here next year”. Son plays water polo, which is even more endangered. So sad.

    • Tammy Lamaster

      Andy Gallion unfortunately most coaches have no idea until it’s already happening

    • Shirley Mireault

      My grand daughter is in ninth grade so 4 years to college. She is also a triathlete so looking for track as well because it looks like college swimming programs may be way fewer by her freshman year. Her mom.was a division one college swimmer so was hoping her daughter would be doing the same .

  1. Jeff Dickson

    The destruction of any sport non football or basketball continues

  2. Erin Howe

    Meg Boldt Coffman- oh no!!! What does this mean for your niece? 😢😢

  3. Sharon Chocko Gallagher

    When you close down the world things are going to suffer. Its one of the easiest programs to cut. 😡 Imagine if it was football… never happen

  4. John McCormack

    After this latest cut a spokesperson for US Swimming stated…. nothing, nothing at all, again..

    When reached for comment, the NCAA replied “wait come again, what happened?”…

  5. Paul Rabener

    That’s just crazy, Sweet Home’s Matt Gianodis is the head coach.

  6. Sommer Barnes-Bell

    Whoa!!!🙁Hmmm.🤔 Not sure what to think about this.💙 I feel bad for the athletes that are at the cusp of starting college athletics right now.

  7. Katie Lundbeck

    Just when “professional swimming” is starting out…

  8. avatar
    Jennifer Parks

    I am bereft, disappointed in the University, and cannot conceive that this will happen, especially in this the Great Lake State. Thank all of the people who have made it a great Spartan Sport since 1922. Jennifer Parks

  9. Karen Briers

    I feel terrible for the kids who have committed.

    • avatar
      Kurt

      My son had an offer and was very close to committing. He is brokenhearted. I can’t imagine what the young men and women on the team are feeling.

  10. avatar
    Michelle

    Unfortunately this has been expected for several years – IA dropping their programs and COVID were just the excuses MSU was looking for. Horrible for our beloved sport:(

  11. avatar
    Ellen

    This is a very sad day . Swimming and diving athletes are the hardest working and most dedicated of all sports.

  12. Steven Greseth

    trump is the cancer of America. If we had a real leader the virus would be under control and these sport would not be cut.

    • Steven Greseth

      I’m an environmental engineer. I’ve read many books on viruses and pathogens. trump has no clue. That’s why all these swim programs are being cut. We have not a competent leader.

      • avatar
        Dr. Douglas Templeton

        How did you make that leap of “logic”?

    • Kelly Spencer Williams

      Congratulations, I’m an actual healthcare provider. You can’t stop a virus, it will run its course until we have herd immunity. Have we seen the common cold or flu eradicated?

    • Mykenzie Leehy

      Steven Greseth the fact that you’re blaming trump for this makes you absolutely clueless

    • Steven Greseth

      Mykenzie Leehy other first world counties have contained the spread. We have 4% of the worlds population and 25% of the cases and deaths. This are facts. We don’t have a competent leader and it shows. Dr Angela Merkel president of Germany laid the facts bare to all Germans. They did what she said. She is a leader. If Dr. Merkel or any other leader was in place, these sports programs would not be cut.

    • Lisa Ward

      Steven Greseth are you for real?? 😂😂

    • Raymond Lomax

      you should also be blaming all the
      parties and group gathering not following save protocol

    • Lori Goldberg Mennitt

      Steven Greseth how? Until we have a vaccine it won’t be over. Swimming should not be cut. It’s not Trump’s fault it’s actually another country’s but what’s the point.

    • Erik Lebsack

      Steven Greseth what an idiot. Nothing to do with the subject as those states with democrat leaders that had their own policies had the worst outbreaks. Look at Europe that had their economies shut down entirely for weeks. Now have worse outbreaks than the USA on the next wave. It’s not political but people like you will try to make it one. You are the problem with America

    • Michelyn Rudser Baker

      Kelly Spencer Williams amen Kelly! It’s a virus. It’s here to stay like colds and flu. People are always going to get some form or another. Happens like clockwork…kids go to school, get sick w in a month. Cooties are everywhere all the time.

    • Steven Greseth

      Viruses are a natural occurrence. It does not matter where they start. It will quickly spread world wide through travel. They happen about 25 years on average. Trump has simply failed as an example and as a leader. Total flop.

    • Kelly Spencer Williams

      So shutting down travel in January was nothing?! You have problems in your state, that’s on your governor. We do not live in a country where the president has total control, thank God! And to keep you up to date, the mortality rate is down 18% for those hospitalized with Covid. However, the mortality rate for those with heart attacks, strokes, and mental health conditions have skyrocketed

    • Steven Greseth

      Yes. I agree. We all must be good examples and wear a mask, safe distance, and wash hands.

    • Caleb Reigle

      Not trumps fault people are idiots and can’t follow simple rules. Its been said for God knows how long now: 6 feet apart, mask up, and sanitize. The countries that have it controlled are the countries that actually listened to MEDICAL advice (not how i said medical, which has nothing st all to do with politics). This isn’t a politics issue, this is an Americans (including myself) are ducking dumbasses issue

    • Steven Greseth

      Yes we have. The flu virus mutates rapidly and dies off each year. Then a new one takes it’s place.

    • Kelly Spencer Williams

      We’ve had three new respiratory viruses cause world wide problems in less than 25 years, not counting Covid. Check your information and leave the dissemination of medical information to those in the field.

    • avatar
      Meg Gore

      Understand that there are parents of kids that are on that team reading your comments. Please refrain from making their tragedy your political platform. With respect – not the place.

  13. avatar
    JL

    MSU’s pool is regulation in size, just ancient. MSU would not invest in their student athletes to build a better facility.

  14. Brent Fletcher

    Poor financial management by the AD, overpaid staff, etc. Such a sad situation.

  15. Nichol Tran

    Thats so messed up….why not cut how many football players are on the team…most never play

    • Heather Howard

      Football makes money and supports most of the other teams on a college campus. Swimming does not.

    • Nichol Tran

      Michelyn Rudser Baker i get it but let me tell you how much waste happens.

    • Heather Howard

      Nichol Tran I’m not denying that but when it’s the sport that makes the dollars, Athletic Departments are going to be more tolerant. They are also going to be less likely to make cuts to sports that make money. As the saying goes, you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

    • Nichol Tran

      Heather Howard I personally think they could put more into other sports but they choose not to and make money but that is a whole other talk.

  16. Kim Corse Welch

    My daughter is devastated! She wears her Michigan State swim cap to practice every day.

    • Stephanie Wiley

      Kim Corse Welch I immediately thought of you both. Cutting swimming seems to be every University’s “easy” solution to hard times.

  17. Alison Greenley Lloyd

    So disappointing to see another swim program cut, but extremely sad because I was once part of the team at MSU.

  18. avatar
    James Carlisle

    A long time supporter of Michigan State football, I will no longer watch or support MSU in any sport especially football. Nor will any of my family attend MSU in the future. Swimming & Diving programs cost peanuts compared to football coaches salaries. Priorities are messed up at MSU.

  19. Jose Vassallo

    Virus would be controlled just like in the rest of the world

  20. Julie Tellier

    Another university I cannot support! 👎🏻 Michigan

  21. Matt Hanna

    Lose 30 million without swim, 32 with swim. Make it up next year by not buying so many subs for football and basketball.

  22. avatar
    Dr. Douglas Templeton

    Not surprising since MSU refused to put any money into upgrading their 1955 state of the art swimming facility. Unfortunately this has been coming for a long time, and COVID gave them cover to drop the program. Too bad they couldn’t use some of their bloated revenue from football and basketball to support this program.

  23. avatar
    Ken

    Scholarship programs are on the “block.”

    I’m not sure Universities are smart enough to correlate sport and alumni giving and endowments.

    Or if these schools ask alumni to help support their programs.

    Perhaps dropping 60 scholarship athletes saves the school $2m a year. That’s less than 10% of their budget gap. Dartmouth’s gap is $150m and they don’t offer athletic scholarships. So how much is that school saving?

    Dropping the program will cut off those alumni from ever giving again.

    Given MSU is a state school perhaps they don’t get much alumni support.

    Apparently it’s easier to drop a program than ask alums for money. They may not even know who swam for the school 20, 30, 40 years ago.

    Perhaps all non Pro sports should go non scholarship.

    And watch the USA’s Olympic dominance evaporate.

    Name an Olympian that medaled and wasn’t on a college scholarship……

    The USIOC needs to step in.

  24. Nikki Humphrey

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too! End ALL Covid restrictions!

  25. Tom Musch

    Don’t really support the program and then use the fact that they don’t win as a reason to drop the program. Just the same thing happened to the Illinois men’s program.

  26. Rob Richardson

    Start fundraising and save the program – it can happen (eg Arizona State)

  27. avatar
    Mary Jo Paquette

    A true disgrace. What is happening to Michigan State?

  28. Jim Venn

    Beyond sad. This is the 2nd BIG TEN school to cut their program yet smaller schools somehow find a way to continue on without the big money that rolls in from football and basketball.

  29. Ryan Guerra

    This is terribly sad. I’m a Indiana University guy, but I’ve been at many competitions as both a coach and a spectator where the Michigan State kids were present. I was always impressed with their heart and team spirit, even though they were over-matched talent-wise. The kids were always total class and they made their program worthy and honorable. I also had three of my swimmers that went to school at MSU and swam for them and they had a great experience. Unfortunately, there are evil people that run Michigan State and the team members, the alumni and entire swimming community need to go to war over this and other programs being dropped. And I would recommend not being nice about it!

  30. Rick Stanfield

    Might want to stop football after getting hosed by mighty Rutgers.

  31. avatar
    Brian Jones

    My alma mater cut its D1 program in 2009. A program that had been running since 1932.

    I feel for y’all

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