The Ivy Coach Daily

November 23, 2020

Brown Squash Players Hit Back

Earlier this year, Brown eliminated its varsity squash program (photo credit: Ad Meskens).

In recent months, during these tough economic times for universities across America, some elite universities have eliminated certain varsity athletic teams. We’ve reported on these cuts at Stanford, Brown, and Dartmouth, cuts that largely impacted — shall we say — country club sports like squash, swimming and diving, crew, golf, and others. And while these schools will be able to redistribute money that otherwise would have been earmarked for these teams, these teams largely weren’t eliminated for fiscal reasons. Rather, they were eliminated — whether the schools outright said it or not — to free up slots in admissions that otherwise would have been reserved for recruits in these sports for diverse students from low-income backgrounds. Well, some folks, like the athletes whose teams were eliminated, aren’t so happy about the cuts. Indeed, former varsity squash players at Brown are hitting back, choosing to file suit against the Providence, Rhode Island-based institution for a “breach of a contractual agreement.”

12 Members of Eliminated Brown Varsity Squash Team Sue University

As Caroline Nash reports for The Brown Daily Herald in a piece entitled “Demoted men’s and women’s squash teams file lawsuit against Brown, seek reinstatement of varsity status,” “Twelve members of the University’s men’s and women’s squash teams filed a lawsuit against the University in federal court Aug. 17, after the teams were among 11 that were demoted from varsity to club status in May as part of the Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative. The teams seek reinstatement of their varsity status. Led by plaintiff and men’s squash team member Grant Sterman ’22, the ‘Association for the Reinstatement of Brown Squash’ alleges that the University made a contractual promise to team members when they were in high school claiming that if they chose to attend Brown University, they would play on either the men’s or women’s varsity squash teams.”

We Stand with Brown, Which Breached No Contract

And where do we stand? We stand firmly with Brown. For starters, we find this lawsuit against Brown to be a bit tone deaf to say the least. At a time in which our nation is in the throes of the most significant public health crisis in America’s history with cases and deaths rising by the day and as our nation roils with righteous anger over systemic racism, 12 squash players at Brown are upset they’ll be club athletes rather than varsity athletes going forward? Please. And we’re fairly objective here. We swam at Dartmouth and Dartmouth’s swimming and diving teams were eliminated in this wave of cuts as well. But while we may not love Dartmouth’s decision to eliminate our former team, we understand it. The fact is, Brown breached no contract with these students. The university didn’t enter into a written contract with these young people that stipulated they’d be able to play varsity squash for four years any more than they entered into a written contract with them that their dining facility would serve lobster on Thursdays. No, the university promised to educate these young people as best they can. And, in these times, that’s enough.

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