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College backtracks, reinstates women's teams after threats of Title IX lawsuit

Today it was announced that the College of William & Mary will reinstate 3 women's sports after a month and a half of controversy surrounding the decision to eliminate the teams.

A group of females athletes at William & Mary obtained counsel following the school's September 3rd announcement that it planned to eliminate women's volleyball, swimming and gymnastics as well as men's indoor and outdoor track, swimming and gymnastics.

The group of female athletes with their counsel made it clear that they were prepared to file a class action lawsuit if the school followed through with its plan and eliminated the teams at the conclusion of the 2020-2021 school year. The attorney for the group referenced Title IX as the basis for the lawsuit in a letter sent to college President Katherine Rowe.

In its September 3rd announcement the school cited financial difficulties worsened by COVID-19 and the desire to mend inconsistencies in gender equity as the reasons for the cuts. The concern about Title IX violations and the backlash was so strong surrounding this issue that shortly after the cuts were announced, the school's athletic director resigned.

The school's release today not only acknowledged but also confirmed that the threat of a Title IX lawsuit was a large factor in the reinstatement. College President Rowe said, "Achieving gender equity for the department has been an important goal throughout this process – one of the three critical challenges we aimed to address. We appreciate the question was pressed, and it prompted us to dig deeper and determine if the previous plan went far enough or fast enough. This is an opportunity for us to do something decisive, consistent with our values, and I commend Interim Director Martin for working toward a swift resolution under very difficult circumstances.”

There is no word yet on the fate of the men's teams that also were set to be eliminated. The release left a lot yet to be determined and the school will now be tasked with figuring out how to better follow the expectations laid out by Title IX while also addressing its financial strains.

Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.