WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — We’re now hearing from William & Mary’s interim athletic director after the school announced Monday they will not cut three varsity women’s teams as planned.
Jeremy Martin says gender equality has always been a priority for William & Mary.
“As we looked further and with greater depth at the announcement that has been made, we realized that we had further to go in terms of advancing that gender equity goal. When we had that realization, we decided to act in a decisive manner to make sure that we were achieving the foundation for our department that we hoped, which was based in equity,” said Martin.
On Sept. 3 the university announced they were cutting seven varsity sports: men’s indoor and outdoor track, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s gymnastics and women’s volleyball.
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Then-Athletic Director Samantha Huge said the cuts were in compliance with Title IX, the federal law mandating equality for men and women at schools receiving federal funding.
The female athletes fought back and retained attorney Arthur Byant, who upon closer look discovered cutting the women’s teams violated federal law. Bryant wrote a letter to the school threatening a lawsuit if the women’s teams were cut.
Huge stepped down from her position and Martin stepped into the leadership role. Martin was has served as chief of staff for William & Mary President Katherine Rowe.
When they announced the women’s team would not be cut, Martin’s department went a step further, pledging complete compliance with Title IX by the 2022-2023 school year.
“I’m intensely focused on making sure that our student athlete experience is one that’s equitable,” said Martin.
He acknowledged the budget restraints that lead to the initial cuts are still very real.
Alumni continue to fight against William & Mary’s decision to discontinue seven sports
“Yesterday was a day of mixed emotions. Everyone involved as a William & Mary person cares deeply about the other folks around them. And while there was certainly joy in receiving the news for some of the women’s teams, it comes with recognizing that it was not the news for all teams.”
Martin said they are still looking at creative solutions to save the four men’s teams from the chopping block as well, but it’s a tough problem.
“There are no easy pathways to see a gender-compliant, gender-equitable way in which we could increase men’s opportunities,” said Martin “We continue to look for those solutions and work through that process with our community.”
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