Athletic Facilities

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MSU athletes compete and perform in a number of athletic facilities, past and present, from the Armory and Jenison Fieldhouse to College Field and Spartan Stadium.

The Armory, completed in 1886, was originally the only sports facility for indoor team competitions, in addition to gymnastics, boxing, wrestling and other sports, plus other non-sports activities, such as drill hall and ballroom. In 1930 Demonstration Hall was inaugurated, only to be replaced by Jenison Field house, built in 1939, with a seating capacity of 10,000. For five decades Jenison was the arena for basketball and other indoor sports. In the mid 1980s plans were underway to build a completely new sports arena for more than 30 million dollars. The new facility was expected to accommodate more than 15,000 spectators. Named after the university vice president, Jack Breslin, who had been a baseball, football and basketball star for MSU in the 1940s, the arena opened in the fall of 1989 at the cost of 43 million dollars. In 2000 right after the MSU Spartans basketball team won the National Championship, the university announced a $5.9 million addition to the Breslin Center.

On Saturday October 11, 1924 Michigan Agriculture College Stadium or "College Field" was dedicated, in a game where the Aggies faced the University of Michigan Wolverines. The state governor, the presidents of M.A.C. and U. of M. delivered inaugural speeches for the occasion. The stadium replaced the Old College Field and could accommodate 14,000 spectators. The original building has been practically rebuilt in three different occasions. In the first time -in 1935- its name was changed to Macklin Field, with renovations that increased fan capacity to 26,000. Thirteen years later, in 1948, the second rebuilding would take place, and the facility's name was changed to Macklin Stadium, with accommodation for 51,000 people. In 1956 the stadium underwent yet another significant transformation and became Spartan Stadium with capacity for 76,000 spectators.

The most recent expansion and renovations of Spartan Stadium were completed in 2005, including a new press box, luxury suites and new club seats. Besides the classic 1966 "Game of the Century" between Spartans and Fighting Irish, the stadium has witnessed many epic battles between Spartans and Big Ten rivals, and other national opponents. The stadium has consolidated a well earned reputation as one of the loudest football fields in the country. In 2001 Spartan Stadium hosted the "Cold War", a hockey match between Michigan and Michigan State, which ended in another tie, setting an attendance world record for ice hockey games (74,754).


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Baseball was the first organized sport in the Michigan Agriculture College athletic history. Organized for and by the students, baseball teams competed in nearby communities in the 1860s. The first match recorded between M.A.C. and the University of Michigan goes back to 1868. In the 1880s students participated in "field days" where different athletic competitions took place against Olivet and Albion colleges. In 1886 the M.A.C. baseball club was officially created and in 1888 the Michigan Inter-Collegiate Athletic Association was created by students from Albion, Hillsdale, Olivet and M.A.C.


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The first intercollegiate basketball game took place in 1899, only few years after Dr. James A. Naismith invented the game as an indoor winter activity in Springfield, Massachusetts. In the 1930s basketball became a very popular sport among the student population, with the inauguration of Demonstration Hall as the university indoor basketball arena on January 22, 1930. In 1940 Jenison Field House became the new center for Spartan basketball. In 1957 the Spartans conquered the Big Ten title and made it to the NCAA final four for the first time, and lost to North Carolina in the immortalized triple over time game. Led by Earvin "Magic" Johnson, a Lansing native, the Spartans captured the first NCAA national championship in Men's Basketball in 1979 in a historic match against Larry Bird's Indiana State.

Prominent players include a long list led by Julius McCoy, Johnny Green, Lyman Frimodig, Chester Aubuchon, Magic Johnson, and more recently, Mateen Cleaves, Drew Neitzel. The 1990s witnessed a golden era in Spartan basketball under Coach Tom Izzo, who led the team to an NCAA national championship in 2000.


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Boxing experienced a brief life as a college sport between 1888 and 1892 and was included in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), which was formed in 1888. After 1892 boxing disappeared as a competitive intercollegiate sport. In 1938 boxing reacquired varsity status inaugurating a new era in which Spartan athletes would excel. Under Coach George Makris Spartan athletes dominated opponents at regional and national competitions, achieving two NCAA national team championships (1951 and 1955) and nine individual NCAA titles. Special mention deserve Spartan fighters Chuck Davey, the only boxer in college history with four NCAA titles and John Horne, an African American athlete who won three consecutive NCAA titles between 1958 and 1960. The boxing program was terminated in 1958 amidst criticism for the sport and its role as intercollegiate athletic activity. The majority of Big Ten universities also terminated their boxing teams.


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In the 1890s as the college authorities initiated a move to place athletics under their supervision the appointment of coaches ceased to be a student prerogative. In 1899 the department of Physical Culture was established and Rev. Charles O. Bemies was hired to coach sports, mostly football and baseball, and lead spiritual services at the college chapel. The next coach, Chester L. Brewer, was hired as professor of physical culture in 1903. A former coach in Albion College, Brewer directed M.A.C. sports until 1910, when he left for the University of Missouri. John F. Macklin, a former University of Pennsylvania football player, became the new athletic director and football coach, and led the football team to its first victories against the University of Michigan (1913 and 1915) and its first undefeated season (1913).

Clarence "Biggie" Munn was hired in 1947 as football head coach. Munn led the football team to NCAA consecutive national titles and national recognition.

Hugh "Duffy" Daugherty started his coaching career as the assistant coach to "Biggie" Munn. In 1954 became the head football coach of MSU after Munn became the Athletic Director. Daugherty coached for 19 seasons with a winning record of 109-69-5. He retired after the 19th season in 1972, obtaining consecutive national championships in 1965 and 1966.


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The first football team was organized by students in 1896. In 1913 the M.A.C. Aggies completed a perfect season. After WWII the Spartan football program entered and dominated the Big Ten Conference and achieved national prominence under coaches Clarence "Biggie" Munn and Hugh "Duffy" Daugherty. Both Munn and Daugherty conquered four NCAA national titles with their respective squadrons in 1951, 1952, 1965 and 1966. Daugherty's team also participated in the "Game of the Century" in 1966 against Notre Dame University Fighting Irish. Both teams arrived undefeated and the final score was a 10-10 tie.


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Spartans have brought to East Lansing 25 national team championships and Michigan State University is the only school with multiple NCAA titles in Football, Ice Hockey and Basketball. MSU teams will soon pass the 100th mark for Big Ten titles, even though Men started competing in 1951 and Women in 1971. Individually, Spartan athletes have obtained NCAA national titles in more than 100 occasions and more than 500 first places in Big Ten competitions. Some of the team national titles include: Basketball (1979, 2000), Boxing (1951, 1955), Cross Country (1939, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959), Football (1951, 1952, 1965, 1966), Gymnastics (1958), Hockey (1966, 1986, 2007), Soccer (1967, 1968), Wrestling (1967).

Green Splash

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The Green Splash is a women's honorary swimming club of Michigan State University. Officially created in 1927, the Green Splash developed as a result of the activities of the Women's Life Saving Corps, established in the spring of 1922 by the American Red Cross. The name Green Splash reflected a new focus on promoting interest in all water activities among female students. The requirements for a female student to join the group were: to be a sophomore, junior, or senior; to maintain a minimum of a "C" grade point average; and to pass designated swimming requirements. The club soon ventured into the production of "water pageant shows" carefully staged with elaborately planned costumes and scenery centered on a single theme. Female athletes would showcase their abilities as soloists, in duets or large groups of synchronized swimmers. Men and women from the diving teams would also participate in the water shows.


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Soccer became a varsity team at MSU in 1956, conquering the first Big Ten title in 1959 led by Coach Gene Kenney. Kenney coached the team from 1956 to 1970 winning the NCAA national championship in consecutive seasons (1967 and 1968). With one of the most impressive winning records for any college sport, Kenney took the Spartans to eight consecutive appearances in NCAA tournaments. In 1970 support for the soccer program was significantly reduced and the Spartan dynasty came to an end. Recently Spartan soccer has experienced a renaissance, winning the Big Ten title in 2004.


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Swimming had rather humble origins in the M.A.C. Competitions can be originally traced back to the building of pool facilities in 1902, called the "Bath House." The actual pool was small by today's standards, with only seventeen by thirty-five feet, but contained showers, locker rooms, among other amenities.

Swimming intercollegiate competitions started in 1922 for the M.A.C. Aggies. The next year they obtained their first team victory against the Grand Rapids Y.M.C.A.

In 1941 Jenison Pool hosted the NCAA championship. Spartan swimmers conquered their first NAAU championship in 1945 and their first Big Ten title in 1957 guided by legendary Coach Charles McCaffree Jr. (1942-1969). In 1957 IM West Pool was built to replace the old Jenison pool, and became one of the best Olympic pools in the country. This world class natatorium was equipped with modern technology and accommodated over 2,000 people, with side stands that created a stadium-like atmosphere. In 1959 Spartans won the AAU National summer championship. The natatorium hosted the Pan American Games in 1959 and would eventually be renamed in honor of Coach McCaffree. For women swimming did not become a varsity sport until 1970. The first women's swimming team dominated the Big Ten conference with championships in 1973, 1974 and 1975. Since IM West was used for men's recreational use only, female swimmers had to practice at the IM Circle until 1978.


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Tennis was a popular feature in the original intercollegiate meetings that brought together Olivet, Albion and M.A.C. in the 1880s classic "field days". It was also a sport that included both men and women in the competitions. Clay and lawn courts existed on temporary basis in different campus locations until the 1930s, when fifteen courts were built. These courts were destroyed to accommodate the Men's Intramural Building, constructed in 1957. Forty new tennis courts were created south of Spartan Stadium. A chemistry professor named Charles D.Ball became the first tennis coach in 1921 and guided the players until 1946. Tennis enjoys the distinction of being the first sport in which Spartans won a Big Ten championship in 1951.

Track & Field

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Track events constituted the backbone of athletic events at the origins of both intramural and intercollegiate competitions in the 1880s. M.A.C. athletes completely dominated in the track events organized by the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association winning 15 titles in 20 seasons (1888-1907). Leander Burnett, a Native American athlete, won three all-around championships and 37 events in the first era of M.A.C. track & field events. With the inauguration of the Men's Gymnasium in 1920 the college could host the M.A.C. Track Carnival in 1921, which later became the Michigan State Relays. The track program reached national prominence under the guidance of Ralph H. Young (1923-1940), coach and later athletic director. Young was pivotal in the creation of the Central Collegiate Conference, with Notre Dame and Marquette, in 1926. In the 1940s Jenison Field House housed the indoor track events. Spartan athletes obtained the Big Ten titles for indoor in 1966 and outdoor in 1965 and 1966.


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The first record of an ice hockey game is from January 11, 1922, when a M.A.C. team traveled to Ann Arbor to play the University of Michigan. The following week the Aggies hosted Notre Dame University on the Red Cedar's frozen waters. In 1924 a rink was established in the Old College Field, abandoned by the football squad for the new stadium.

In 1926 the Spartans were admitted in the Western League but in 1931 the program was cancelled indefinitely. The ice hockey program took a long hiatus from 1931 until 1948 when indoor facilities where available in Demonstration Hall. There are many reasons that this occurred, including the lack of facilities, institutional indifference towards the sport and the dependence on the unreliable Michigan weather. The hockey team would return in the late 1940s and would continue until present day, conquering three NCAA National Championships in the process in 1966, 1986 and 2007. Michigan State coaches are in the lead for all time wins in the NCAA as well, with former coach Ron Mason in first and current coach Rick Comley in second. The program has come from the early days skating on the Red Cedar River to a national powerhouse in the sport of ice hockey.

Women Before 1945

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Despite being admitted since 1870 to M.A.C. women athletes did not receive the same type of support as their male counterparts in sports activities. In 1888 women formed their first regular sports teams but only until 1896 they were allowed to compete in field day meetings. Women's basketball formally started in 1898. In 1919 the Department of Physical Education for Women was created, led by Helen D. Grimes. Female students were required to participate in physical activities including calisthenics and non-contact sports. In 1922 the Women Life Saving Corps was formed, to later become the Green Splash in 1927, and in 1924 the creation of the Women's Athletic Association opened new venues for athletic competitions. By 1926 the association had more than 100 members and featured 18 different sports; in 1928 a major in Physical Education for Women was approved. Soccer, skating, hiking, volleyball, tennis, and rifle were among the favorite sports. Intercollegiate competition for female athletes was prohibited.

Title IX Era

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In 1962 Carol Herding became head of the Women's Physical Education department, and launched a campaign to increase attendance in the women's gymnasium. By the end of the decade the number of regular visitors had skyrocketed. In 1972 Title IX legislation was approved prohibiting the exclusion of individuals from full participation in educational programs on the basis of sex or gender. Despite this new legislation, a disparaging unequal funding for female and male athletes was still the rule. In the 1977-78 season funds allocated for men amounted to $776,000 while women only received less than $85,000.

In 1978 a formal complaint was filed on behalf of MSU women's basketball team before the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This lawsuit precipitated a significant transformation in the support for female athletes at Michigan State University.