30 January 2021
By Göran R Buckhorn
Men’s lightweight rowing is back at Dartmouth College due to threat of lawsuit.
Dartmouth College, the prestigious Ivy League school in New Hampshire, announced Friday morning that it would reinstate men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s swimming and diving and men’s lightweight rowing, which the college cut in July last summer. This due to threats of a class-action lawsuit claiming the school was violating Title IX, the federal law that protects against sex discrimination.
It was on 9 July 2020, Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon summoned a selected number of students-athletes to a zoom meeting. According to reports they were only given a 45-minute notice. President Hanlon informed the athletes that five sports: men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s swimming and diving and men’s lightweight rowing would permanently be terminated and with immediate effect.
In an e-mail, Hanlon wrote that ‘athletic recruitment at Dartmouth has begun to impact [the institution’s] ability to achieve the right balance between applicants who are accomplished in athletics and applicants who excel in other pursuits.”
Mentioned were also financial reasons – the college was looking at a $150 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that ended on 30 June, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In cutting the five sports, more than 100 athletes were impacted and 15 jobs in the athletic department were eliminated. These measures would save the college $2 million.
However, women from the golf, swim and diving teams fought back. They contacted the California-based law firm Bailey and Glasser LLP, which specialises in Title IX cases. The law firm came back in December, alleging that ‘intercollegiate participation opportunities for women as compared to men were not equal at Dartmouth, in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in programs and activities receiving federal funding.’
After checking the reviewing data the athletic department had used in making the decision about which teams to eliminate, Dartmouth College recognised that the data may have been incomplete whereupon the five sports teams now will be reinstated, according to yesterday’s announcement.
The college also announced it will conduct a ‘gender equity review’ with the development and implementation of a plan to reach full Title IX compliance by the 2023-24 school year. This is to be completed no later than 15 March 2022.
In his announcement, President Hanlon wrote: ‘We sincerely apologize that this process has been, and continues to be, so painful to our current and former student-athletes and all who support them. […] we will make sure that any future decisions will be based on accurate data.’
Starting on 1 February 2021, Dartmouth College will begin looking for coaches for the five sports that were cut. The teams will be reinstated through at least the 2024-2025 academic year.