After the women’s swimming and diving and women’s golf programs threatened to file Title IX complaints, Dartmouth has decided to immediately reinstate all five varsity athletic programs they cut last July: men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s lightweight rowing.
The college first announced its decision to cut the five varsity teams in order to save a projected $2 million. The school said that after cutting these programs, the percentage of women in varsity athletics would be “virtually identical to the percentage of women in the undergraduate student body, ensuring Title IX compliance. ”
West Virginia law firm Bailey Glasser LLP and attorney Arthur H. Bryant found otherwise using the most recent public data. Before the five varsity sports were cut, the 2019-2020 undergraduate class consisted of 49.06% women while the percentage of women competing in varsity sports was 44.87%. Post-athletic cuts in July, the percentage of women in varsity sports increased to 46.23%, still falling short of the percentage of women in the undergraduate population by 2.83%.
In December, Bryant sent a letter to Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon and Dartmouth Athletic Director Harry Sheehy on behalf of the women’s swimming and diving and women’s golf programs requesting their immediate reinstatement due to the Title IX violations.
Earlier Friday morning, Hanlon sent an email to the five teams expressing sympathy for the student-athletes and explaining the decision to reinstate their programs:
“This past summer, as part of a campus-wide effort to address pressing institutional challenges, we took the difficult step of eliminating five varsity athletic teams, including the sport in which you excel. I understand how profoundly disappointing this process has been for you, your teammates, and your families.
“As you will recall, in determining which teams would be eliminated, Athletic Director Harry Sheehy and his team established a series of factors and considerations to be used in the assessment. We have recently learned that elements of the data that Athletics used to confirm Title IX compliance may not have been complete.
“Later this morning, I will send a message to our community announcing that in order to ensure that we are complying to Title IX and fully living up to our institutional values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we will immediately reinstate all five varsity teams and launch a gender equity review of varsity athletics. Your feedback will be solicited as part of this review.”
The former coaches of the programs will be offered the right of first refusal to return to their positions, according to Dartmouth Athletics’ FAQ. If they refuse the positions, the search for coaches will begin “immediately.”
This brings the number of sponsored men’s programs at Dartmouth to 16 and the number of sponsored women’s programs to 18.
For nearly 7 months the Dartmouth swimming and diving team, alongside multiple of the other cut varsity teams, have protested the athletic cuts. Here is a short timeline of some of those actions:
- In August, Dartmouth swim and dive raised diversity concerns, arguing that the cuts adversely affected Asian-American athletes.
- In September, class of ‘74 alumni Jim Bayles swam a 15 mile open water swim to raise pledge money for men and women’s swimming and diving.
- In October, 20 remaining Dartmouth athletic teams signed a letter in solidarity with the 5 cut teams.
- In December, Bryant sent the letter about Title IX violations to Hanlon and Sheehy, requesting the immediate reinstatement of the 2 programs who signed on to the letter, women’s swimming and diving and women’s golf.
This is the second school in the past year to reinstate both their men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs. William and Mary first reinstated their women’s program after Title IX allegations and the reinstatement of their men’s program followed shortly afterward.
Two schools have saved their women’s programs alone: East Carolina University reinstated their women’s swim and dive program alongside women’s tennis earlier in January and a judge granted an injunction preventing Iowa from cutting women’s swimming and diving.
Bryant and his co-counsel worked on the Title IX cases for both William and Mary and East Carolina. In the Bailey and Glasser press release about Dartmouth’s reinstatement, Bryant said, “This is a huge victory for the women at Dartmouth who stood up for their rights, the entire Dartmouth community, and everyone who cares about gender equity and the law.
“Dartmouth screwed up royally. It publicly announced it was eliminating teams to comply with Title IX when their elimination flagrantly violated Title IX. This is the fifth college in the past few months that illegally eliminated women’s teams and then reinstated them when we confronted them. Schools need to get the message: Title IX has been the law for almost 50 years. It guarantees women equal opportunities, athletic financial aid, and treatment. If schools don’t provide that, the women can sue — and they will win.”
Full Dartmouth Announcement from Hanlon:
“To the Dartmouth community,
Last July, we announced the elimination of five varsity athletic teams: women’s
and men’s swimming and diving; women’s and men’s golf; and men’s lightweight
rowing. We made this difficult decision as one component of a broad
institutional response to increasing financial pressure resulting from our
looming structural deficit, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the
desire for more flexibility in undergraduate admissions.
To determine which teams would be eliminated, Director of Athletics Harry
Sheehy and his team established a series of factors and considerations to be
used in their assessment. We have recently learned that elements of the data
that Athletics used to confirm continued Title IX compliance may not have been
In light of this discovery, Dartmouth will immediately reinstate all five
teams. Furthermore, in order to ensure that we are complying with the law and
living up to our institutional values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we
have commissioned the following reviews:
-Holland & Knight, a national law firm with expertise in Title IX compliance,
will conduct a gender-equity review of varsity athletics. It will request and
consider input from student-athletes and alumni, including those from the
reinstated teams, as part of the review.
-The Ivy League will conduct an NCAA compliance review of varsity athletics.
-PricewaterhouseCoopers, Dartmouth’s auditors, will conduct a
process-and-control review of Dartmouth Athletics.
This comprehensive set of 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 and recommendations will
be delivered to the Board of Trustees Committee on Audit and Oversight and me.
At the conclusion of the reviews, we will publish an action plan and take any
steps necessary to ensure compliance with Title IX and to address institutional
goals, priorities, and challenges. More information about the decision and this
process is available at
This has been a difficult year on numerous fronts. 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.
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.”