WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — All seven varsity sports programs that were on the chopping block at William & Mary will now remain, at least through the 2021-2022 school year.
William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe made the announcement on Thursday, saying it followed a recommendation from Interim Athletic Director Jeremy P. Martin, who stepped in after the departure of former athletic director Samantha Huge.
The decision brings men’s gymnastics, men’s swimming, and men’s indoor and outdoor track back into the mix. William & Mary already announced in October that the other sports up to be cut –– three women’s sports: women’s gymnastics, women’s swimming and volleyball) — would remain after the school was threatened with a Title IX lawsuit.
It comes just two months after William & Mary said it was cutting the seven programs to cut costs. The fallout from that announcement was immense, eventually leading to Huge parting ways with the university.
The university will now “reset its process to determine long-term sustainability,” which leaves the door open for possible cuts in the future. Rowe says the review process will be on a phased approach that focuses on gender equity and financial sustainability.
“It’s an act of faith with our community,” Martin said. “To say we’ve heard our community say how important these sports are to them and how much they are willing to support them.”
In order to keep the athletic department afloat in the short-term, Martin said the athletic department needs to raise $4 million for immediate use this fiscal year, with at least $2.8 million received no later than March 1, 2021. The department recently reporting having a $2.8 million deficit this year.
“The money is coming from the generosity of William & Mary donors in large part. That’s long been a major part of our athletics budget. And this year we’ve also set fundraising targets for individual teams,” Martin said.
The school will also look for additional ways to reduce expenses. In February, W&M Athletics will unveil a five-year fundraising plan for operating costs, capital investment, endowment, and priorities identified to pursue Title IX compliance.
“I was elated, I didn’t know how to act,” said Christian Marsh, 20, upon hearing the news. Marsh is a junior member of the men’s gymnastics team.
“It’s pretty awesome to know that I am going to be able to compete in Division I gymnastics for all four years,” Marsh said.
Dan Demer’s son is a swimmer and was already looking to find another school to transfer to. Demers said the short-term victory of keeping the teams will mean nothing if a long-term fix isn’t found soon.
“Coaches can’t recruit if the program is in jeopardy. Who would come to a school who isn’t committed to the program?” Demers said. “There is still a lot of work to do to make sure we can reinstate these teams forever.”
To read William & Mary’s full release on the announcement, click here.
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