26 April 2021
By Göran R Buckhorn
The women’s rowing team at the University of Connecticut (UConn) in Storrs is fighting for their sport since UConn announced that their program will be cut.
Last summer, UConn announced that the athletic department had to trim down its budget by $10 million. Sports being cut were women’s rowing, men’s swimming and diving, men’s cross country and men’s tennis. The number of scholarships in golf and men’s track and field were also cut.
The female rowers at UConn thought that their sport – a squad of 50+ members – was safe from being cut as rowing was the largest women’s team at the university. They were wrong. Due to the cut, rowing now has the smallest team in years with 34 women. As a sport that will be cut after the 2020-2021 season, no “walk-ons” showed up last autumn.
Nearly 8,000 people have signed a petition to keep the rowing program alive on the Division I level.
In late March, 23 UConn women’s rowing alumni filed a Title IX complaint against UConn, stating that the school was out of compliance with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding.
“The university engaged in a comprehensive review of its athletic program in determining how many and which teams would be eliminated. UConn used its best efforts to eliminate as few teams as possible in the review, which included a careful analysis of Title IX compliance,” Stephanie Reitz, spokesperson at the university, said in a statement. “While the university certainly understands and appreciates the disappointment of those who supported the women’s rowing team, we are confident that our actions in regard to that team and the other three eliminated teams were consistent with the university’s obligations under Title IX.”
A week ago, two dozen members of the UConn women’s rowing team marched with oars and ergs from the university campus to Storrs town center to protest the university’s decision to eliminate the team. Connecticut Fox 61 was there to report.
UConn does not have a varsity men’s rowing team, though there is a men’s rowing club.
On Saturday, the UConn women competed at its fourth regatta of the 2021 season in Pennsylvania when they met Bucknell University on the Susquehanna River. The UConn women raced the First, Second and Third Varsity Eights, and the Varsity Four. Bucknell won all four races. Next weekend, UConn is off to Poughkeepsie, New York, for a regatta at Marist College.
In May, the UConn women will compete at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships. CAA is a collegiate athletic conference affiliated with the NCAA’s Division I whose full members are located in East Coast states from Massachusetts to South Carolina.