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Same semester program was cut, MSU swimming and diving posts best grades in the nation

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

In a year of significant adversity, Michigan State swimming and diving teams have continued to make a splash in the classroom.

The Michigan State women's team posted a 3.87 grade-point average in the fall semester, the best showing in the nation, among all divisions. The men's team posted a 3.71, sixth in the nation, behind only American, Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard and Stanford.

Sparty

The Michigan State swimming and diving programs were told in October they were being eliminated after this season, the first time the university has cut a sport in 20 years.

Last week, 11 members of the women's team sued the university, asking a federal judge for an injunction. They say Michigan State's decision violated Title IX legislation. Michigan State athletic director cited infrastructure and finances in making the decision.

"Give our kids credit," MSU head coach Matt Gianiodis said in a statement put out by the university Tuesday, amid a season also disrupted by COVID-19 — the teams are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak and have postponed upcoming meets. "They had every reason to fold the tent, but they certainly accepted what they could control and took pride in how they represent Michigan State. At MSU we call that 'Spartans Will.'"

The lawsuit remains in federal court, signed by Michigan State swimmers Sophia Balow, Ava Boutrous, Julia Coffman, Kylie Goit, Emma Inch, Sheridan Phalen, Madeline Reilly, Olivia Starzomski, Sarah Zofchak, Taylor Arnold and Elise Turke. Defendants include MSU president Samuel Stanley, athletic director Bill Beekman and the MSU Board of Trustees.

Some of the swimmers provided written statements for the lawsuit.

"I feel abandoned by MSU, its athletic department," Reilly wrote in her declaration. "MSU did nothing to work with us to save the program despite requests by our team and alumni.

"I feel that the drive and determination of our current team and our alumni could have worked to arrive at a solution, but we were never given that opportunity by MSU."

Michigan State officials have declined to comment on the lawsuit, but did post an article promoting the program's collective GPAs on its athletics website Tuesday. The men's team is in its 99th season, the women's team its 51st.

Michigan State is one of two Division I schools in the state to cut sports in the last year, joining Central Michigan, which eliminated the men's indoor and outdoor track programs to save $600,000 a year.

There is a precedent of eliminated teams winning an injunction. A federal judge in February 2019 ordered Eastern Michigan to reinstate its women's tennis program, but allowed Eastern Michigan to replace its eliminated softball team with a lacrosse team.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984