Citing Title IX Pressure, William & Mary Reinstates Women’s Swimming

William-Mary-Swimming
Photo Courtesy: William & Mary Athletics

Citing the requirements of Title IX, William & Mary Monday reversed its decision to cut three sports, reinstating women’s swimming and diving.

The university also reinstated women’s gymnastics and women’s volleyball at the Division I level. From a statement:

“The university wants those teams to thrive and will treat them equitably with other varsity teams at the university. By reinstating these sports, William & Mary will make significant progress toward achieving equity in participation in 2021-22. Completing that progress will require reduction in the men’s program via roster management and retaining the current cuts to the men’s teams, or a swift and significant increase in participation opportunities for women, or both.”

William & Mary announced in September that it would discontinue seven of its 23 varsity programs, including men’s and women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming, women’s volleyball and men’s indoor and outdoor track & field. Among the reasons were “structural budget deficits exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Ostensibly, those cuts would allow the university to remedy “long-standing gender equity imbalances inconsistent with the requirements of Title IX.”

But William & Mary, in Monday’s statement, said it “received notice of intent to sue on the grounds that the announced plan, including the cuts and the associated roster adjustments in other sports, would not fully meet Title IX standards.” A detailed analysis by the athletics department found them in jeopardy by the suit, which led to the decisions to reinstate.

“We recognize the very substantial challenge but are committed to engaging those who bring substantive solutions,” interim director of athletics Jeremy Martin said in the release. “Consistent with our phased approach to decision making under COVID-19, we will move swiftly to lay out the challenge and arrive at a decision for the 2021-2022 academic year.”

Martin replaced Samantha Huge, who was the athletic director when the cuts were announced but recently stepped down.

“We know that this process has caused pain,” Martin said. “We will need to continue rebuilding trust by our actions going forward. We have moved quickly over the last week to meet with students, coaches and alumni groups supporting alternative solutions for all the affected teams. We remain committed to that effort. William & Mary has a long history of emerging even stronger from adversity. With the help of our whole community, we will do just that.”

Read the full letter here.

4 comments

  1. Diane Pavelin

    Not sure why AD’s think they can get away with cutting women’s sports and be Title IX non-compliant, especially if they were already or close to it before cuts.

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