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MSU students, parents appeal to trustees to spare swimming & diving

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"Ripples in the Olympic pool" by Ben Sutherland is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
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The Michigan State University Board of Trustees met today (Fri) for the first time since announcing plans to discontinue the school’s historic swimming and diving program. Some on the team are making last ditch appeals to keep it afloat.

The MSU Swimming and Diving program is in its 99th year and it’s all but certain not to celebrate its centennial.  On October 22, MSU announced it would cut the program in 2021, citing the financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic as a deciding factor.  At Friday’s trustees meeting, several people spoke out to defend the program, including junior Madeline Reilly.

“You’re cutting a group of strangers from all over the world that have come together and quickly become a family," said Reilly. " You’re cutting a network of alumni who’d be willing to do anything for this program.”

Reilly proposed a recreation fee built into student tuition as a means of funding the program.  But MSU President Samuel Stanley Junior says he stands by the decision.

“It’s a very difficult one and my heart goes out to the swimmers and divers," Stanley says. "But again, we have to look at programs during this time; we have to look at budgets.  We really don’t have a choice.”

Several trustees say they’re listening to students’ concerns, but add they can’t promise to restore the swimming and diving program.

Kevin Lavery has been news director at WKAR since September 2006.