Michigan State University
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Female athletes from Michigan State University filed a lawsuit against the university after it eliminated the men’s and women’s swimming-and-diving teams following the 2021 season.
The school cited “cost” as the reason for doing so. Their claim is that the swimming and diving facilities needed millions of dollars in upgrades.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a plea this week to get involved in the dispute.
According to a report from Reuters:
“Members of the women’s team sued to say the decision violated federal anti-discrimination law, commonly known as Title IX. A judge rejected a request to keep the women’s team alive while the lawsuit proceeded, saying she doubted the female swimmers would prevail at the end of the litigation. But a three-judge federal appeals court panel later ruled 2-1 that the judge should take another look at the case.”
“The high court rejected the university’s appeal of a lower-court ruling in favor of former members of the team who say MSU violated Title IX by not providing enough opportunities for women athletes to participate in sports. The lawsuit centers on MSU’s announcement in October 2020 that it planned to cease sponsoring the men’s and women’s swimming-and-diving teams when the school year ended, citing budgetary challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those teams in the 2019-2020 school year had 29 men and 33 women. Females comprised 50.9% of its overall undergraduate class that year and 51.2% the year before,” the report added.
The university’s Board of Trustees met in October. Trustee Melanie Foster said that the board requested a report from the athletics director, Alan Haller, outlining the university’s plans for its athletics program.
“As a result of the report and subsequent dialogue,” Foster said, “the university will reach out to swim and dive advocates by the end of the semester. The Board remains committed to listening to all constituents. We have heard from swim and dive students, alumni, parents, and the greater Spartan community. AD Haller will work together to strategize a plan forward for the team within the next academic year.”
A former diver from MSU spoke out about the situation. Kayla Williams was a diver at the school from 2006-2010.
“The university is well positioned to bring these teams back,” Williams said. “The efforts of our group, Battle for Spartan Swim and Dive, have shown there is a large support base for these teams.
“We have had hundreds of people who have pledged millions of dollars to support MSU in reinstating both teams. We look forward to collaborating to rebuild our programs.”
Proponents of the lawsuit believe that MSU violated Title IX when they eliminated the women’s swimming and diving team and want to hold the school accountable.
Michigan is one of a number of states that have passed or are considering passing laws to limit the participation of transgender athletes to the team that matches their biological gender.
The premise is that when a school allows transgender students to play against students of the opposite gender, it threatens laws like Title IX that prohibit discrimination.