William & Mary men’s gymnastics reinstated after two-month saga

By Patricia Duffy | November 5, 2020
William & Mary men's gymnastics reinstated after two-month saga
Photo courtesy Tribe Athletics.

William & Mary announced Thursday that it is reinstating all previously eliminated men’s teams–William & Mary men’s gymnastics, swimming, and indoor and outdoor track and field–through at least the 2021-22 school year.

The decision marks a complete reversal of the university’s controversial September announcement that it would cut seven teams from its varsity offerings–including men’s and women’s gymnastics. The Tribe athletic department has now reinstated all seven teams that were previously set to cease to exist at the end of this upcoming academic year.

The three women’s teams, including the women’s gymnastics team, were reinstated on October 19 amid threats of Title IX lawsuits.

W&M President Katherine A. Rowe said today that, in between now and 2022, the university will conduct a “gender equity review paired with exploration of alternative solutions leading to a long-term financial plan.”

Budget deficits and Title IX were the two main reasons cited when the elimination plan was initially announced.

The men’s teams were reinstated at the recommendation of Tribe Interim Director of Athletics Jeremy Martin–who replaced former director Samantha Huge in early October–following his review of the September decision.

Equity, financial sustainability, and excellence

Per a Tribe Athletics press release, Martin’s report concludes that long-term solutions must be found within three frames – equity, financial sustainability, and excellence. Recommendations include completing the department-wide gender equity review before deciding the scope of the varsity sports program W&M can realistically support; establishing defined fundraising goals for each team; engaging the entire W&M community in the conversation about excellence; and establishing a sustainable program that will achieve gender equity during the 2022-23 academic year.
“Since early last month, we have been engaged in a conversation about how to structure William & Mary’s Division I athletics offerings in a way that is equitable, financially sustainable and excellent,” Rowe said. “I appreciate that this has been an especially painful time for the students involved in the sports cut on September 3rd to endure.”
“Many in our community – student-athletes, coaches, alumni, faculty and other supporters – have responded with passion, offering alternative solutions to the challenges facing the department,” said Rowe, adding she is grateful for Martin’s swift and thorough work over the past month to assess the path forward for W&M Athletics. “His recommendations address the reality that the athletics community needs time to confront together forthrightly: a status quo that is unsustainable with respect both to finances and mission.”

Despite the “very real and pressing financial challenges,” Martin’s review concluded that the university should take more time to consider the best path forward.

“My review made it crystal clear that the Sept. 3 rollout and the subsequent identification of flaws in the plan’s proposed implementation of the gender equity component led to legitimate questions within the W&M community,” Martin said. “We should bring the same thoughtful, phased planning and execution the university used in dealing with COVID-19 to the challenges facing W&M Athletics. The next year and a half will give us the opportunity to do just that.” 

Martin expects to finalize a two-year fundraising plan for W&M sports by February 1. The athletic department will complete its gender equity review by the end of June and will follow with a financially viable gender equity plan no more than two months later.

“There is a great deal to be done, and the time for us to step up and work together on shared solutions is here,” Martin said. “I am getting to know our incredible student-athletes, coaches and staff, and I have seen the passion our alumni have for our programs. I am confident we will be able to move forward together and emerge even stronger.

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