Student-athletes threaten to sue W&M over cuts to sports teams

Williamsburg

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — An attorney representing some student-athletes at William & Mary say they plan to file a class-action lawsuit against the university if it does not keep the sports teams set to be cut.

The letter comes several weeks after William & Mary announced it would cut seven varsity sports due to financial issues.

Attorney Arthur Bryant — who wrote the letter Sept. 23 to university President Katherine Rowe — represents the women’s varsity gymnastics, volleyball, and swimming teams.

He says the cuts for those sports violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Other teams that will be cut at the end of this school year are men’s gymnastics, men’s swimming, men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball.

In total, 118 student-athletes and 13 coaches are impacted by the cuts.

Bryant said he was also retained by members of the women’s basketball team in 1991 when William & Mary announced it would eliminate that team.

At the time, attorneys said the school’s move to eliminate the team violated Title IX “by depriving women athletes and potential athletes of equal opportunities, athletic financial aid, and treatment.”

“The school, in its wisdom, decided to reinstate the women’s basketball team and avoid being sued,” Bryant wrote.

In the letter Wednesday, Bryant said the move to eliminate the sports at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year again violates Title IX.

If the school does not agree to keep the women’s sports, Bryant said he and his co-counsel would file a motion for a preliminary injunction and class action in federal court seeking both to prevent the teams’ elimination.

Before filing any formal complaint, Bryant said he wants to meet with William & Mary officials and Rowe to discuss “the relevant facts of the law.”

Despite the school’s original letter on Sept. 3 announcing the cuts assuring that eliminating both men’s and women’s sports ensures compliance with Title IX, Bryant questioned that statement’s validity. He asked the university to provide their basis for that statement.

Bryant asked Rowe to respond to his letter by Sept. 30.


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