Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive Responds to MSU’s Supreme Court Request

A week after Michigan State asked the Supreme Court to review its challenge to the Title IX lawsuit filed by 11 female swimmers, the Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive group has delivered their response in the ongoing fight to reinstate the varsity sport in East Lansing. 

“Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive is profoundly disappointed that MSU has chosen to take its fight with these women to the Supreme Court rather than working with our group of students, alumni, and supporters to restore the swim and dive teams, invest the millions pledged by Battle donors into the program, and reverse MSU’s terrible Title IX track record,” said the press release by Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive, which was formed by alumni and friends of the program after it was cut in October of 2020. 

“In its July 29th filing, MSU argues that measurement of the participation gap used to determine compliance with the landmark 1972 legislation is inconsistently applied and “unworkable” for a large university,” the statement continued. “In our 22 months of attempted outreach and collaboration with MSU, the only thing that has proven unworkable is the university’s willingness to reverse a bad decision based on bad data.”

Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive went on to counter MSU’s stated reasons for eliminating the program. The group pointed to nearly $200 million in donations to MSU Athletics that eased financial burdens brought on by the pandemic, as well as more than $10 million that Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive pledged in a recent budget proposal that could fund the program for around five years. 

They also said that any complaints about facilities are being addressed by the planned replacement of an aging IM West pool with a modern 50-meter pool as part of the new recreation center. Then Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive argued that building back the program is manageable considering 21 athletes are still on campus, including 13 who led MSU’s club team to a national championship in April. 

“With the funding, future facilities, and a foundation of swimmers on campus, the time to reinstate the program is now,” the statement said. “This season is well within reach despite MSU’s claims. Samantha Barany, Executive Director of the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America, submitted a declaration to District Court Judge Hala Jarbou confirming that every Big Ten swim program plus a number of other Division I schools would be “eager to schedule a meet involving a Swim and Dive team from Michigan State University during the 2022-23 season.” 

Before signing off, the Battle team referenced MSU’s checkered history when it comes to the school’s treatment of female athletes. 

“It is also time for Michigan State to get on the right side of Title IX. After many decades of disparate treatment of female athletes, a 1979 lawsuit, multiple botched investigations into sexual assaults, and the Larry Nassar conviction and aftermath, MSU needs to stop being a threat to equal access and support and start being a proponent for fair female representation into the next century. 

“Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive stands ready to make the unworkable work. Instead of dragging out a legal fight with its own students, which has cost the university more than $500 million so far according to FOIA records, let’s end the fight and move forward.”

The earliest the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case is October. At the crux of the issue is how Title IX compliance is calculated. 

Legal experts have predicted that the Supreme Court could potentially loosen the current standard, reduce regulatory power, or even throw out the formulas for determining substantial proportionality of opportunities for women’s sports if they take the case. But that’s a big if — the Supreme Court receives between 7,000 and 8,000 petitions a year, according to the American Bar, but only chooses to hear oral arguments for about 80. 

You can view the docket here.