The Ivy Coach Daily

January 29, 2021

Dartmouth Reinstates Eliminated Athletic Teams

We swam and played water polo at Dartmouth back in the day.

We here at Ivy Coach are celebrating today as, in a dramatic turn of events, Dartmouth College has reinstated its men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams along with men’s and women’s golf, and men’s lightweight rowing. Yes, you read that correctly. These teams have all been reinstated. As our readers may recall, Dartmouth College eliminated these five teams back in July to create more flexibility in its admissions process. As we swam on Dartmouth’s team back in the day, we are elated that the team has been fully restored. Twice in the last twenty years, Dartmouth has eliminated its men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams only to then reverse the decisions. On this latest occasion, the rationale for Dartmouth’s reversal is, in a word, shocking.

Dartmouth Was Accused of Being Out of Title IX Compliance With Team Eliminations

Just a few weeks ago, a law firm representing the women’s swimming and diving team as well as the women’s golf team threatened to file suit against Dartmouth, alleging that the elimination of these teams placed the school outside of Title IX compliance. Title IX, as our readers likely know, is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools. At the time the law firm first threatened to file suit against Dartmouth, we expressed skepticism that Dartmouth would have really made such a mistake in falling out of Title IX compliance since there are folks at Dartmouth whose sole responsibilities are to ensure the school remains in Title IX compliance. Well, we were wrong! The lawyers representing the women’s swimming and diving team and women’s golf team were right. And we are so glad! Our crystal ball was wrong and we are absolutely delighted because it means the swim team is back. Again!

And Apparently Dartmouth Was Out of Title IX Compliance

And while we remain flabbergasted that Dartmouth’s administration could have made such a blunder, we appreciate that they have fallen on their sword. In a letter to swimming alumni, Philip Hanlon, Dartmouth’s president, wrote, “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 complete. In light of this discovery, Dartmouth will immediately reinstate all five teams.”

Dartmouth Ultimately Did Right by Falling on Its Sword

What President Hanlon did not express in his letter to alumni was that this announcement was a condition of the school’s settlement with the potential litigants who alleged Dartmouth’s move left them out of Title IX compliance. Do have a look at the full settlement agreement, which has been made public and is an absolutely fascinating read. This extraordinary turn of events is a credit to the students, alumni, friends, family, and apparently a terrific law firm that fought to get these teams reinstated. The first time the swimming and diving teams were eliminated, back in 2002, a boyfriend of a then-swimmer put the team for sale on eBay. The publicity the stunt generated was enough to motivate the school to bring back the team. This time, it took teaching Dartmouth a thing or two about Title IX compliance. And while we were upset at Dartmouth for eliminating the teams in 2002 and again in 2020, we appreciate their apology. We appreciate their candor. We appreciate that they fell on their sword — not everyone does that and because they have done so, we forgive them.

Here’s hoping Dartmouth doesn’t eliminate the swimming and diving teams a third time. But, if they do, at least they know they’ll be in for a heck of a fight. And we won’t forgive them so easily. Go Big Green!

Yes, that’s us playing for the Big Green!

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