Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Title IX: W&M administration, alumni split on school’s compliance

The College of William & Mary announced three womens' sports teams would be reinstated to comply with Title IX regulations. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Tribe Athletics - Jon Fleming/CAA Sports)
The College of William & Mary announced three womens’ sports teams would be reinstated to comply with Title IX regulations. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Tribe Athletics)

The College of William & Mary announced on Monday three women’s sports programs which were previously cut from the university would now be reinstated to comply with Title IX.

But not everyone is happy with the decision to reinstate some of the teams instead of all seven sports programs.

RELATED STORY: W&M reinstates women’s sports teams to comply with Title IX

W&M alumni thoughts

Some alumni said the decision to reinstate the women’s teams and not the men’s is frustrating at best.

“It’s just funny because initially the justification for it was this was COVID,” said Mark Moran, W&M alumnus and former track captain, in reference to the sports cuts.

He said now W&M is using Title IX and competitiveness in Division I athletics as reasons.

“In bringing the women’s teams back for swimming and track specifically…you’re bringing back all of the fixed costs associated with the coaches and a lot of the travel operations.”

While the decision to do so is “not going to break the bank,” Moran questioned where the donations would go on the programs that were cut.

“Cutting men’s track or men’s swimming is also going to affect how people feel about the programs and whether they want to donate or not,” he said. “None of the solutions offered today address any of the structural deficits the school is struggling with.”

He said he feels the university needs to look at the entire athletics department for Title IX compliance and to address the “elephant in the room”: Football.

“It’s more we need to realize that the football team is losing a lot of money,” Moran said.

As for the Title IX lawsuit, he said in 1991, the same attorney threatened a lawsuit, something Moran called a “short term band aid.”

He was surprised when the university announced the women’s teams would be reinstated and said William & Mary is choosing football over other sports that actually wins championships, like the men’s swim team.

“To me, when you think about the intent of Title IX, women are treated equally to men,” he said. “The opposite for any school would be to bring on more women…rather than cutting men’s programs that further exacerbate this deficit they are facing.”

Jeff Crisci, W&M alumnus and a member of the Save Tribe Swimming executive committee, said the decision to reinstate the women’s teams was a “good positive step” but is disappointed W&M “didn’t take the extra step to reinstate all seven teams.”

His wife, Kelley Crisci, is the assistant swim coach for the women’s and men’s teams. His son, Flynn is sophomore on the men’s teams this year.

Jeff Crisci said he feels William & Mary created a Title IX problem and reinstating the three teams has not “fully solved” the problem.

For Title IX compliance in sports, there must be equal opportunity for both men and women to play sports, the student-athletes getting “scholarship dollars” compared to their participation and there is equal treatment of student-athletes with equipment procurement, locker rooms and other services.

“Title IX does not require institutions to offer identical sports but an equal opportunity to play,” according to the NCAA website.

Jeff Crisci said the scholarship funding is not proportional to enrollment, noting there are more men’s scholarships than women’s “at the moment.”

“The first thing they said was this was about saving money,” he said. “The two cheapest programs they cut, well three, are the men’s programs.”

While he understands why the university reinstated the women’s teams because of the “threat of litigation,” he said the “right thing” was to reinstate all of the teams.

“It’s a good first step but until all the men’s teams are reinstated, it’s a job not done,” he said.

At the Save Tribe Swimming community meeting on Monday following the announcement, Jeff Crisci said they provided a general update for the broader swimming community.

W&M response

“As a result of today’s announcement and decision, (interim Athletics Director Jeremy) Martin said there is no clear and easy pathway to reinstate the four suspended men’s programs immediately, while making significant progress toward gender proportionality within the department,” according to the statement announcing the reinstatement of the women’s teams. “However, he added, the university remains committed to swiftly continuing conversations with those affected programs in order to look at every viable alternative before making a decision for the near term.”

WYDaily asked Pete Clawson, spokesman for Tribe Athletics, Monday to clarify Martin’s statement.

“The women’s teams that have been reinstated in today’s announcement were done so achieve decisive progress towards gender equity in participation,” Clawson wrote in an email. “As a result of today’s announcement and decision, there is no clear and easy pathway to reinstate the four suspended men’s programs immediately, while making significant progress toward gender proportionality within the department.”

“However, the university remains committed swiftly to continuing conversations with those affected programs, to look at every viable alternative before making a final decision for the near term,” he added.

In the Sept. 3 open letter announcing the university’s decision to cut the sports programs, the administration noted otherwise.

“Many of these teams currently compete without a full and maximum-allowable complement of scholarships, coaches and resources, and there is no longer a clear pathway forward to reach such goals in the current climate,” according to the open letter. “The discontinuation of these seven sports and other associated actions assures Title IX compliance.”

See the full timeline from the announcement to cut the seven varsity sports teams to the resignation of Tribe Athletics Director Samantha Huge here.

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Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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