Brown University filed a motion in district court Wednesday that asserted the university is in compliance with a 1998 legal agreement to maintain a specific percentage of athletic opportunities for female students. The filing is in response to legal advocates, the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island and Public Justice, which accused Brown of violating the agreement after the university cut five women’s varsity sports teams in May.
In a joint press release, the advocates said administrators’ emails revealed Brown was attempting to “undermine” and “destroy” the agreement, which would harm its female athletes. The university’s legal filing called the accusations “spurious conspiracy claims” and said the groups have “focused their energies on the process that led to Brown’s decision, rather than the hard data that makes Brown’s compliance with the Joint Agreement all but a certainty.”
The filing provides an analysis of the most current female athlete participation at the university, as of the 2020-21 academic year, which shows it will be within the range required by the agreement, despite changes to its varsity sports lineup. In a press release, President Christina Paxson defended the university’s commitment to providing opportunities for women. The emails released last week showed Paxson was interested in looking for ways out of the agreement.
“Since the original agreement, Brown has had two women presidents, our general counsel was a two-sport female varsity athlete at Brown, and we have one of the best records in varsity athletics among our peers for providing opportunities for women student-athletes,” Paxson said. “As someone who loves sports, routinely goes to the games and cheers these women athletes on, I have no intention on backsliding on our commitment to equity for women. It’s not only our legal obligation, it’s the right thing to do.”