LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Due to the financial burden of the Coronavirus Michigan State’s athletic department announced last Thursday that it would no longer have Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving as varsity sports following the 2020-21 school year. Since that day, the alumni and current athletes began to organize.
Those behind the financial fight to keep swimming and diving at Michigan State have created a group known as Battle for Spartan Swimming and Diving. One of the biggest issues is the cost of the Olympic-sized 50-meter IM West outdoor pool which is currently in disrepair and would cost between $16 and $18 million dollars to renovate.
During a Zoom press conference last Thursday, MSU Athletic Director Bill Beekman shared his thoughts on how not having the Olympic-sized pool would drastically hurt the program.
“Without the capability of having a 50-meter pool, even anywhere in our community, it creates just a huge challenge to recruit elite athletes,” said Beekman.
When speaking with two former Michigan State swimmers, Scott Piper and Tom Munley, they disagreed with the statement that the pool renovation was one of the reasons for the programs to be cut.
“Our Olympic-sized outdoor pool is closed but people come to Michigan State for things beyond training for just the Olympics,” said Piper. “Any NCAA competition takes place in a 25-yard pool, which we do have, so that’s never stopped us before,”
“We’ve had more people qualify for Olympic trials in 2020, as well as 2016, than were qualifying when I swam back in the 90s,” said Munley. “That tells me you’re continuing to attract the top cream of the crop from an athlete standpoint. Any illusion to a diminished capacity to compete because of some facility I think that’s just crazy.”
Even though the athletic department has ruled the decision as final, members of the group will have three minutes to speak during the MSU Board of Trustees meeting this upcoming Friday to make their case.
“A common saying in swimming is if you have a lane you have a chance,” said Piper. “Would we love upgraded facilities? Yeah, but we have 25-yards that’s all we need.”
“This isn’t done yet, if they were really gonna kill it they would have killed it right now and sent all those kids home and out of the pool, they didn’t do that,” said Munley. “There’s a window here so stay positive stay focused on what we can control and let’s make sure we get to the point where they’re asking for something and let’s go out and do that. This is going to be something that isn’t going to stop quickly or easily for the university and I hope they understand that.”