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Some Dartmouth College Athletes Consider Title IX Suit After Program Cuts

Flickr Creative Commons / Brave Sir Robin
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / Brave Sir Robin

Earlier this year, Dartmouth College announced it was cutting five sports programs as a way to reduce athletic department expenses, citing the financial impacts of COVID-19 on the college.

The teams that were cut included men’s and women’s swimming and diving and golf teams, and men’s lightweight rowing

Now, some athletes are considering legal action against the college. 

Arthur Bryant, a California-based attorney with Bailey & Glasser, is representing members of the women’s swimming and diving and golf teams. 

In a letter sent to Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon last Friday, Bryant wrote that the elimination of the women’s teams violates Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination. He’s asking the college to reinstate the two programs. 

“You cannot eliminate an active women’s team unless the opportunities to participate in the program are substantially proportionate to their enrollment rates, ” Bryant said.  

Bryant, who was a lead lawyer in the first Title IX case tried against a university for discriminating against its women athletes, says that Dartmouth would need to add 47 women to its athletic programs to reach gender equity under Title IX.  

In its announcement of the cuts, Dartmouth said it was in compliance with Title IX. 

A Dartmouth spokesperson says the college is reviewing the letter and quote “we look forward to responding.” Bryant called on Dartmouth to respond no later than Tuesday, December 22. 

Similar situations have played out at William & Mary University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, which had both announced they would eliminate or suspend sports teams to save money. 

Bryant sent letters to both universities stating they were in violation of Title IX, and that he would file a lawsuit to prevent their elimination.  Both of those universities later reinstated those women’s teams. 

Bryant says the Dartmouth women athletes he represents also want the men’s team’s to be reinstated. 

“If Dartmouth needs to save some money, it should save it some other way. That’s entirely possible.” 

Copyright 2021 New Hampshire Public Radio. To see more, visit New Hampshire Public Radio.

Daniela is NHPR's Couch Fellow for Innovation.
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