Motions call for new strategic plan, external audit of William & Mary athletics department

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Several faculty members plan to present three motions at the Faculty Assembly meeting on Tuesday in reference to the seven varsity sports teams which were cut in September. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Tribe Athletics)
Several faculty members plan to present three motions at the Faculty Assembly meeting on Tuesday in reference to the seven varsity sports teams which were cut in September. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Tribe Athletics)

The aftermath of William & Mary’s decision to cut seven sports programs seem to have created a unique chain of events that has the potential to alter the athletics department’s relationship with the campus community.

A significant piece of that evolving saga was the resignation of the university’s first female athletics director.

Now several faculty members have penned a set of motions they intend to present at the university’s Faculty Assembly meeting Tuesday.

One item they’re asking for is an external audit of the athletics department.

Well, more on that later in this story.

In a nutshell, the motions are in response to the university’s decision to cut seven varsity sports programs in September and the administration’s plagiarism of an open letter which announced the decision.

Suzanne Hagedorn, associate professor of English and director of the undergraduate program in English, Katherine Guthrie from the Business School and Tom McSweeney from the Law School, drafted three motions with input from other faculty members.

“We are also seeking endorsement of these motions from individual faculty members (not necessarily Faculty Assembly representatives) to show that there is support for them from faculty across the five faculties,” Hagedorn wrote in an email Monday. “We have two elected members of the Faculty Assembly who have indicated that they are willing to put it on the floor at tomorrow’s meeting for discussion.”

She said the two members are from the Arts & Sciences, and will both make and second a motion at Tuesday’s meeting. The following motions were sent to the faculty approximately 24 hours before the meeting.

The first motion calls for W&M President Katherine Rowe and the Board of Visitors to create a new “Athletics Task Force” to develop a new strategic plan for the athletics department.

It also calls for the suspension of the 2019 strategic plan.

The task force would consult the faculty assembly with “significant representation of W&M faculty, staff, students and the local community.

The motion also recommends no input from “external consulting firms.”

The second motion wants the university to reinstate the seven sports programs “pending further review and consideration by the new Athletics Task Force.”

“We also recommend that no sport, including any of these seven reinstated sports, shall bear any special or heightened burden of justifying its continued existence as a varsity sport at the university in connection with the work of the new Athletics Task Force,” the motion notes.

The last and third motion is a recommendation for an external audit of the athletics department conducted by an “accredited independent accounting firm” and an “independent body review” of the department’s compliance with NCAA and Title IX requirements.

Hagedorn said faculty assembly members can introduce motions for a debate but it might not happen at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The head of Faculty Assembly has indicated that there is a lot on the agenda at tomorrow’s (Tuesday) meeting, and it might be preferable to introduce the motions, but postpone debate on them and hold a follow up meeting,” Hagedorn wrote. “All of that is up to the members of FA, which I have not been elected to.”

“Only members of FA (and guests whom they invite) may speak to motions, and only they may vote,” she added.

The next Faculty Assembly meeting is via Zoom on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Interim Athletics Director Jeremy Martin will also be in attendance, Hagedorn said.

W&M President Katherine Rowe. (WYDaily file/Stephen Salpukas, W&M News)
W&M President Katherine Rowe. (WYDaily file/Stephen Salpukas, W&M News)

On Sept. 3, Rowe, Provost Peggy Agouris and now former Athletics Director Samantha Huge announced the following seven varsity sports teams would be cut at the end of the 2020-2021 school year: men’s swimming, gymnastics and outdoor and indoor track teams and the women’s swimming, volleyball and gymnastics teams.

In the weeks following the decision, the Tribe community discovered parts of the open letter had been copied from Stanford University’s open letter with both Huge and Rowe acknowledging W&M “consulted” with the university and the open letter was “a mistake.”

Arthur H. Bryant from Bailey & Glasser LLP, an attorney representing the women’s sports teams, threatened a Title IX lawsuit against the college, demanding the cut sports be reinstated. Just hours before a motion calling for a vote of no confidence in Huge was to be presented at the faculty of Arts and Sciences meeting, Huge tendered her resignation.

Here’s the timeline of events — from the cutting of the programs to Huge’s resignation.

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