Dartmouth College is reinstating five sports that it eliminated and will do an external review of the athletic department’s policies, practices, and governance, after being accused of not offering equal intercollegiate participation opportunities to women as compared to men.
The Hanover, New Hampshire, school in July announced that it was getting rid of women’s and men’s swimming and diving, women’s and men’s golf, and men’s lightweight rowing to help address a projected $150 million financial deficit because of the coronavirus pandemic and give them more flexibility in admissions.
Dartmouth said Friday that the sports were being reinstated after the school learned that elements of data used to confirm compliance with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in programs and activities at universities receiving federal funding, may not have been complete.
“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,” university President Philip J. Hanlon said in the statement. “Through the actions above, we will make sure that any future decisions will be based on accurate data.”
The school also released a joint statement with members of the women’s golf and women’s swimming and diving teams as part of a resolution of threatened legal action, the school said.
The decision to cut the teams sparked outcry among athletes. More than a dozen Asian athletes had signed a letter in August complaining that the cuts target sports popular with Asians, noting that they will impact 30 Asian athletes, half of all Asians athletes at Dartmouth. Twenty of the school’s sports teams had signed a letter in October calling for Dartmouth to reinstate the sports, according to the student newspaper.
A gender equity review must be completed by March 15, 2022, the statement said. And based on that review, the school will adopt and gender equity plan to ensure that all aspects of its intercollegiate athletic program comply with Title IX during the 2023-24 academic year and in future years, the statement said.
“Dartmouth is committed to offering equal opportunities in intercollegiate athletics regardless of one’s gender,” Hanlon said. “It is, and always has been, our intention to ensure that we are complying with the law and fully living up to our institutional values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Arthur Bryant, the lead attorney for the female athletes, said they were delighted that the school has agreed to reinstate the teams and to do a gender equity review.
“Our clients, who stood up for their rights, are incredibly proud,” he said in a statement. “They sincerely hope that Dartmouth will use this opportunity to become a model for gender equity in athletics nationwide.”