Samantha Huge, director of athletics at the College of William & Mary, admitted on Sept. 18 that the college’s letter announcing cuts to seven athletic programs imitated a letter put out by Stanford University about athletic cuts nearly two months prior.
William & Mary published a letter on Sept. 3, which explained that men’s and women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, and women’s volleyball would no longer be offered at the college after the 2020-21 academic year. The letter, signed by President Katherine Rowe, Provost Peggy Agouris and Huge, said that the coronavirus pandemic made existing budget constraints in the athletic department “acute" and had "brought us to a point of reckoning."
Multiple sections of the letter were identical to Stanford’s letter of July 8, which announced 11 teams at the university would be discontinued after 2020-21. Swimswam.com, an online publication that covers intercollegiate swimming, published a comparison of the two letters.
William & Mary “consulted with professional colleagues and peers at several institutions, including Stanford” about the best way to deliver the bad news about the cuts to varsity programs, Huge’s Sept. 18 statement said. The college’s officials “clearly fell short of the William & Mary community’s standards,” she said.
“Our goal was to emulate best practices, not imitate,” Huge said in the statement. “Upon reflection, we should have taken more care with the review of the materials we shared with our community. At the end of the day, regardless of the drafting process, I take responsibility and we will do better. Above all, the goal was to convey respect to those most directly affected. I regret very much that we did not meet that goal.”