William & Mary reinstating 3 women’s sports after being threatened with Title IX lawsuit

Virginia News

(Photo courtesy: William & Mary)

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — The College of William & Mary has decided to reinstate three varsity women’s sports after being threatened with a Title IX lawsuit.

In a statement Monday, the university acknowledged the plan to cut seven of its 23 Division 1 sports would not properly achieve gender equity.

“Achieving gender equity for the department has been an important goal throughout this process – one of the three critical challenges we aimed to address,” said university President Katherine Rowe. “We appreciate the question was pressed, and it prompted us to dig deeper and determine if the previous plan went far enough or fast enough. This is an opportunity for us to do something decisive, consistent with our values, and I commend Interim Director Martin for working toward a swift resolution under very difficult circumstances.”

Women’s gymnastics, women’s swimming and women’s volleyball will continue, but four men’s sports — men’s gymnastics, men’s swimming and men’s outdoor and indoor track and field — are still slated to be cut. The new plan will drop William & Mary down to 19 NCAA Division I varsity sports.

The announcement brought mixed feelings among athletes.

“I genuinely felt like we were just numbers that were just checked off a Title IX box,” said Brooke Lamoureux, a sophomore women’s swim team member.

The initial plan to cut sports sparked backlash, and eventually led to the resignation of athletic director Samantha Huge earlier this month.

Athletes tell WFXR’s sister station the latest development is bittersweet.

“It was hard to be happy, especially being part of the men’s team obviously, but it was a step in the right direction,” said Christopher Pfuhl, a senior men’s swim team member.

Lamoureux said the programs see themselves as a package deal.

“We are a men and women’s team. That’s what most people committed to and that’s what we swim best as,” she said.

The university says the decision reinforces its commitment to gender equity however officials also recognize other concerns still need to be addressed.

Athletes and alumni worry the move could end up hurting the athletics program overall.

“I think William & Mary has heard a consistent message that we are one tribe, one family and we want to keep it that way,” said William & Mary swimming alumnus Tom Gill.

To read William & Mary’s full statement, click here.

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