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Dartmouth College Reinstates Five Previously Cut Sports Teams, After Threat Of Lawsuit

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

Dartmouth College announced Friday that it would reinstate five men's and women’s athletic teams it cut last summer, following threats of a class-action lawsuit aleging the college was violating Title IX, a federal law that protects against sex discrimination. 

Last July, Dartmouth said it needed to eliminate the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams; men’s and women’s golf teams, and the men’s lightweight rowing team because of the pandemic’s effect on finances. The college said it would still be in compliance with Title IX even with the cuts. 

But in a statement on Friday, the college said that elements of the data that the athletics department used to confirm compliance “may not have been complete.” 

Arthur Bryant, a California-based lawyer, represented members of the women’s swimming and diving and golf teams. In his letter to Dartmouth's president, Phil Hanlon in December, Bryant wrote that the cuts meant that opportunities for women to participate in sports were not proportional to their enrollment rates, and asked Dartmouth to reinstate the two teams.

Bryant says publicly available data showed that these cuts put Dartmouth out of compliance with Title IX.  

“This was simple math. And Dartmouth got it wrong. You have to wonder who screwed up, how, and why,” he said in a phone interview Friday.  

Dartmouth says it will be reviewing the athletics department's compliance practices and procedures, and as part of the settlement agreement, the college will develop and adopt a gender equity plan with input from student-athletes and alumni by March 15, 2022. 

The Ivy League will also conduct an NCAA compliance review of varsity athletics. 

“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,” Hanlon wrote in his announcement. “Through the actions above, we will make sure that any future decisions will be based on accurate data.”

The school will begin looking for coaches starting on Monday, February 1. The teams will be reinstated through at least the 2024-2025 academic year per the agreement.

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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