People, media yield power as university programs reinstated amid backlash

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© Copyright – 2020 – Athletics Illustrated

During 2020, at least two universities in the NCAA attempted to cancel sports. They did this only to face student protestation and media backlash, which resulted in a reversal of their decision.

Brown University

In May, Brown University’s President Christina H, Paxon had announced that due to a budget shortfall they would take the cross-country and track teams out of the varsity competitive program.

“Effective immediately for the 2020-21 academic year, the University will transition 11 varsity teams to club status. Brown will cease training, competition and operations at the varsity level for men’s and women’s fencing; men’s and women’s golf; women’s skiing; men’s and women’s squash; women’s equestrian; and men’s track, field and cross country (which are three varsity sports under federal Title IX rules governing access to opportunities in sports),”

Money proved not to be an issue, however, budgeting did. The university allocated a certain quantity of funds to sports, however, Paxson had overseen consecutive record-setting years in philanthropic support for Brown. Growth in fundraising and investment strengthened the University’s teaching and research with support for state-of-the-art facilities.

After several publications and student and athlete protests, Paxon reversed the decision.

College of William & Mary

At the College of William & Mary twenty-six athletes signed a Letter to the administration detailing that they are supporting the men’s team.

The women’s team had said that they will not compete in university kits unless the men’s team, which had been cancelled, was reinstated. The media took up the charge.

In addition to men’s track, gymnastics, swimming, volleyball was to be eliminated. However, they were reinstated to avoid a Title IX lawsuit. The school claims a budget shortfall.

The women’s team feel that the arrival of the decision to cancel the teams was arrived at by dishonest means and they indicated so in the letter to the administration.

“We will begin a campaign of passive resistance to the unfair practices and policies of the College’s administration, including the dishonest manner in which these decisions were arrived at. As such, you can expect to see us front and center voicing our concerns about these issues; you can expect us to take our argument to our student body, to our faculty, and to our alumni; what you should not expect is for us to show up in uniform, representing this institution, until this matter is resolved. A College that does not share these core values is not a College to be valued.”

On Nov. 5, The Virginian published the article, (William & Mary reinstates all eliminated sports following two-month saga, by Marty O’Brien).

Gender equality and Title IX

William & Mary announced a reversal on Thursday. They changed direction, it started in September by announcing it will allow four men’s varsity teams slated for elimination to compete. This would start after this academic year so they could compete in Division I through at least the 2021-22 school year.

W&M President Katherine A. Rowe said that in the meantime, the school will deliberately review gender equity in athletics as it tackles budget deficits. Those issues prompted the school to announce the elimination of seven teams.

At the recommendation of interim athletics director Jeremy Martin, Rowe announced the reinstatement of men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, swimming and gymnastics teams slated for elimination as varsity sports at the end of the school year.

The three women’s teams also proposed for elimination as part of a Sept. 3 announcement — gymnastics, swimming and volleyball — were reinstated on Oct. 19 so that the school could avoid a Title IX gender equity lawsuit.

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