William & Mary reinstates 3 women’s sports to avoid lawsuit

William & Mary reinstates 3 women’s sports to avoid lawsuit
William & Mary (Source: WHSV)

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - William & Mary will reinstate three women’s sports that were going to be cut in an effort to avoid a lawsuit.

The university announced Monday that Women’s Gymnastics, Women’s Swimming and Women’s Volleyball will continue as Division 1 varsity sports.

The school announced on Sept. 3 that Men’s and Women’s Gymnastics, Men’s and Women’s Swimming, Men’s Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field and Women’s Volleyball would be cut at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.

“The plan prepared by the Department of Athletics implemented discontinuations to address structural budget deficits exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and to begin remedying long-standing gender equity imbalances inconsistent with the requirements of Title IX,” a release said.

William & Mary reversed its decision after being threatened with a lawsuit that said the cuts would violate Title IX.

“The university 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. After a detailed review, Interim Director of Athletics Jeremy Martin concluded that attainment of the anticipated roster adjustments was uncertain and the plan would not achieve equity in participation by next fall. To bring about decisive progress more swiftly, the three women’s sports would need to be restored,” a release said.

The law firm representing women student-athletes said the college also agreed to develop a Gender Equity Plan and come into full compliance with Title IX by the 2022-23 academic year to avoid being sued.

“This is a major victory for gender equity, everyone at William & Mary, and all who care about fairness and the law,” said Arthur Bryant of Bailey & Glasser’s Oakland, CA office, in a release. “The school has decided to do the right thing: reinstate the women’s gymnastics, swimming, and volleyball teams; create a detailed plan to ensure gender equity; and commit to get into compliance with all aspects of Title IX in two years. The women student-athletes at William & Mary are finally going to get the equal treatment they deserve—and the law requires.”

Interim Director of Athletics Jeremy Martin said there is no clear or easy path for the men’s sports that were suspended to be reinstated while making progress towards gender proportionality within the school’s athletics. Martin did say the university remains committed to having conversations with those impacted.

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