W&M Faculty Assembly reviewing motions about reinstating cut sports programs

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At the Faculty Assembly meeting on Tuesday, the motions presented in response to the College of William & Mary's decision to cut seven sports teams, were tabled until the following week. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Tribe Athletics)
At the Faculty Assembly meeting on Tuesday, the motions presented in response to the College of William & Mary’s decision to cut seven sports teams, were tabled until the following week. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Tribe Athletics)

William & Mary’s Faculty Assembly could vote on a series of motions regarding the athletics department as early as next week.

Michelle Lelievre, associate professor of American Studies & Anthropology and Anne Rasmussen, professor of Music/Ethnomusicology, introduced three motions Tuesday which called for W&M President Katherine Rowe and the Board of Visitors to create a new “Athletics Task Force” to come with a new strategic plan for the athletics department.

The other motions called for the reinstatement of the seven sports programs as well as an external audit and independent body review of the athletics department’s compliance with NCAA and Title IX requirements.

Suzanne Hagedorn, English professor and director of English undergraduate studies in the Arts & Sciences department, Katherine Guthrie from the Business school and Tom McSweeney from the Law school had written the three motions with input from other faculty members.

The motions come less than six weeks after the Rowe, former Tribe Athletics Director Samantha Huge, and Provost Peggy Agouris announced seven varsity sports programs would be cut effective in the 2021-2022 academic year.

William & Mary’s Faculty Assembly needs more time to consult with their colleagues and “more time to educate themselves on the issues,” Hagedorn said.

“They were introduced,” Hagedorn said, describing the motions as “put on pause.” “They were tabled until the next faculty assembly.”

When asked if the faculty assembly could vote on it next week, Hagedorn said someone could table it again or form their own task force to further study the motions.

“Generally what happens with a motion is there is an up or down vote,” she noted.

Oftentimes, when the faculty assembly makes a suggestion “their input is taken very seriously,” Hagedorn said.

But it’s still just a recommendation.

“And technically, let’s just say, even if they do pass the motion, faculty assembly is purely like an advisory suggestion like a vote of no confidence,” she said, adding a vote of no confidence would just be an opinion poll. “The only people who can do things like make decisions on who serves on an athletic task force is the president and the Board of Visitors.”

During the Tuesday Zoom meeting — and prior to the faculty assembly’s discussions of the motions — Jeremy Martin, the interim athletics director, spoke about the athletics department’s plan going forward.

“I have now met with all of the affected student athletes teams,” he said.

Martin spent his time going over the slideshow which was sent to the faculty assembly before the meeting, the same meeting Martin showed during his 26-minute video message via Youtube to the W&M community last Thursday.

RELATED STORY: ‘Decisions are as final as the circumstances in which they are made,’ W&M interim athletics director says

The main points he focused on was institutional identity, budget sustainability and legal requirements. He noted how “W&M means an incredible amount” to him and he wants to do his “best” for the university.

The next Faculty Assembly special meeting is Oct. 20 at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom.

A little background

On Sept 3. Rowe, Agouris and Huge announced in an open letter the following seven sports teams would be cut: men’s swimming, gymnastics and outdoor and indoor track teams and the women’s swimming, volleyball and gymnastics teams.

Parts of the open letter were plagiarized from Stanford University’s open letter. After the discovery, Huge and Rowe sent out statements about the letter but did not admit it was plagiarized. Agouris did not release a public statement.

In the weeks following the open letter and the plagiarism surrounding the statement to the community, an attorney representing the women’s teams threatened to file a Title IX lawsuit against W&M and Hagedorn called for a motion for a vote of no confidence in Huge’s leadership, citing the lack of transparency with the faculty about the sports cuts and the plagiarism.

Less than an hour before the motion for a vote of no confidence was about to presented at the Arts & Science faculty meeting, Huge resigned.

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

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