With School Facing Court Order, Michigan State Group Calls For Reinstatement of Swim Programs

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Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona

With School Facing Court Order, Michigan State Group Calls For Reinstatement of Swim Programs

The Battle to Save Michigan State Swim & Dive has responded to a district court judge, who on Tuesday ruled against Michigan State in a Title IX lawsuit brought by former swimmers, but the judge did not stipulate that the university must reinstate the swimming and diving programs.

The school must submit a Title IX compliance plan in the next 60 days. The reinstatement of the swimming programs is not required, but might be the easiest way to get back within compliance.

“MSU has two choices to bring it into compliance in the timeline given – cut a men’s program or multiple men’s roster spots, or bring back Swimming and Diving. With 21 swimmers still on campus, every Big Ten Conference swim/dive program willing to add MSU to the schedule, and more than $10 million in pledges and endowments from Battle supporters, the answer seems clear,” a statement from the Battle to Save Michigan State Swim & Dive reads. “Combined with what will be more than $200 million donated and contracted to Spartan Athletics over the last 18 months, the resources are there for Athletic Director Alan Haller to make the right choice. Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive again asks to meet with AD Haller, allow our team to help draft a compliance plan, and return the Swimming and Diving program to its rightful place at MSU.”

The original suit, brought in January 2021 by 11 swimmers and divers, originally had the request denied. But a motion was granted upon appeal and remand for consideration to U.S. District Judge Hala Y. Jarbou, who laid out the 60-day compliance ruling.

Here is the Battle to Save Michigan State Swim & Dive Response:

BSSD: Reinstating Swim/Dive Best Solution to Court Ruling

EAST LANSING – Yesterday, Judge Hala Jarbou ruled that Michigan State University has 60 days to submit a compliance plan after she found the university to be in violation of Title IX requirements. Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive asserts that reinstating the Swimming and Diving program is the best solution to meet this court order.

MSU has two choices to bring it into compliance in the timeline given – cut a men’s program or multiple men’s roster spots, or bring back Swimming and Diving. With 21 swimmers still on campus, every Big Ten Conference swim/dive program willing to add MSU to the schedule, and more than $10 million in pledges and endowments from Battle supporters, the answer seems clear.

The Battle team unequivocally opposes any more cuts by the MSU Athletic Department. Eliminating opportunities for any Spartan is in direct opposition to MSU’s mission to “teach, support and celebrate our student-athletes.” Indeed, our proposal and the $10M in support is contingent on the reinstatement of the Women’s and Men’s Swimming and Diving teams. Bringing back both engages the financial and logistical support of our group, with the long-term goal of endowing much of the program. We stand with our fellow Spartan student-athletes and alumni and want to see opportunities expanded, not reduced.

Combined with what will be more than $200 million donated and contracted to Spartan Athletics over the last 18 months, the resources are there for Athletic Director Alan Haller to make the right choice. Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive again asks to meet with AD Haller, allow our

team to help draft a compliance plan, and return the Swimming and Diving program to its rightful place at MSU.

Furthermore, the Battle team supports a settlement that ends the litigation, which has cost the university more than $500,000 so far (according to Freedom of Information Act reports), and will tally an estimated $1 to $1.5 million in its own attorney fees if the case continues to its scheduled January trial. This estimate does not include the cost of reimbursing the plaintiffs attorneys if MSU loses that case, which seems to be inevitable according to Judge Jarbou’s writing in yesterday’s opinion:

“Plaintiffs have shown a substantial likelihood of success [on the merits of the case]. In other words, they have shown a substantial likelihood that the participation gap at MSU is higher than a viable varsity women’s swimming and diving team (emphasis added).”

There is also the upcoming cost of the Washington D.C. law firm hired by Michigan State to seek a hearing in the U.S. Supreme Court on the participation gap calculation. According to information obtained from MSU through FOIA requests, MSU has agreed to pay up to $150,000 just to ask the Supreme Court to take its case, and agreed to pay an additional $100,000 bonus if the Court takes the case. How much money is MSU willing to spend to keep the Swimming and Diving team out of the pool?

We agree with Judge Jarbou’s comment that MSU’s “resources are better spent on
what is more likely to be a sustainable course of compliance over the long term.” That sustainable course is bringing back MSU Swimming and Diving, and working with the Battle team to create a new model of financial support for Michigan State’s Olympic varsity programs.

Go Green!

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