Five Varsity Teams Reinstated, External Reviews Planned

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External reviews will look at Athletics Department policies, practices, and governance.

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Dartmouth campus in winter from above
Photo by Robert Gill
1/28/2021
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The five varsity athletic teams that were eliminated in July are being immediately reinstated, and Dartmouth will begin a comprehensive, external review of the Athletic Department’s policies, practices, and governance model, Dartmouth announced today.

The reinstatement of women’s and men’s swimming and diving, women’s and men’s golf, and men’s lightweight rowing comes after Dartmouth recently learned that elements of the data Athletics used to confirm continued Title IX compliance may not have been complete. Title IX is the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in programs and activities at universities receiving federal funding.

As part of a resolution of threatened legal action, Dartmouth and members of the women’s golf and women’s swimming and diving teams today entered into a settlement that included the issuance of a joint statement on reinstatement of the teams. The statement also says that Dartmouth will undertake a gender-equity review of its varsity athletics program. (Read the statement here.)

Students who had been athletes on the teams were notified early today of the reinstatement in an email from President Philip J. Hanlon ’77. They are invited to a meeting this evening with Athletics Director Harry Sheehy. By Monday, Dartmouth will have begun the search for coaches for the reinstated teams. The coaches who were let go when the teams were eliminated will be offered the right of first refusal on returning to their positions.

The July 9 decision to eliminate the teams is one of the institutional changes Dartmouth has made in the past year to address increasing financial pressure resulting from a looming structural deficit that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to give the institution more flexibility in undergraduate admissions. The reinstated teams are to be in place at least through the 2024-25 academic year.

In announcing the reinstatements today in an email to the Dartmouth community, President Hanlon said, “We know that many in our community have been disappointed by the decisions we have made within Athletics and across the institution. The news that the data used to confirm Title IX compliance in connection with the team eliminations may not have been complete only adds to that disappointment.”

“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,” he said. “Through the actions above, we will make sure that any future decisions will be based on accurate data. Our sincere hope is that these reviews and team reinstatements will create an opportunity for us to come together as a community as we navigate the challenging times ahead.”

Three reviews will take place. Holland & Knight, a national law firm with expertise in Title IX compliance, will conduct a gender-equity review of varsity athletics. The firm will request and consider input from student-athletes and alumni, including those from the reinstated teams, as part of the review, which is to be completed no later than March 15, 2022. The Ivy League, of which Dartmouth is a member, will conduct an NCAA compliance review of varsity athletics. And Dartmouth’s auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, will conduct a process-and-control review of Dartmouth Athletics to examine administrative systems to make certain appropriate business practices are being followed and effective governance structures are in place.

Hanlon said the reviews “will strengthen our practices and governance structures and ensure that Dartmouth Athletics is fully compliant with all Title IX, NCAA, and Ivy League policies.”

The findings will be given to Hanlon and the Dartmouth Board of Trustees Committee on Audit and Oversight. Dartmouth will then publish an action plan based on the reviews’ recommendations and take any necessary steps to ensure Title IX compliance and to address the institution’s goals, priorities, and challenges, said Hanlon.

See a list of frequently asked questions about the reinstatement. Comments about the reinstatement may be sent to teamreinstatement@dartmouth.edu

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