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Op-eds, Opinions

From the Captains and Supporters of 11 Cut Varsity Teams: Is Brown Ever True?

By , and
Op-Ed Contributors
Thursday, June 4, 2020

Last Thursday, Brown University announced its decision to cut 11 varsity teams as part of the “Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative.” This change, guided by the advice of consultants, means former varsity teams will lose all recruiting spots, trainers, athletic department tutors and coaches — effective immediately. Club teams will now swell in size without official tryouts, while having their budgets slashed. As captains of the 11 cut teams, we write to expose the distressing process by which we were informed of these cuts, as well as to describe the consequences for our current and recruited athletes. We therefore call for the University to delay this decision by one year.

The decision was announced in a shocking manner. On May 28, the students of soon-to-be cut varsity teams received an email on behalf of Brown Athletic Director Jack Hayes, asking us to join an important Zoom webinar. We tuned into Zoom to see a message from Mr. Hayes, announcing that Brown had cut 11 varsity sports: men’s track and field and cross country, men’s and women’s squash, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s fencing, women’s equestrian and women’s skiing. We were ambushed. Just 10 minutes later, an email was sent to the entire school, in which President Christina Paxson P’19 stated the University’s vision for “excellence” in varsity athletics. The harsh words in President Paxson’s email insinuated that the 11 cut teams do not embody such “excellence,” yet no concrete definition of excellence was given. No student-athletes or coaches were informed of any decisions prior to this nine-minute webinar with the athletic director.

In the Brown Athletics mission statement, the University claims it is “committed to sustaining one of the most wide-ranging NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports programs for men and women” in concordance with their commitment to deep and broad educational opportunities. Yet the excellence initiative works to reduce the size of the sports program by cutting 11 teams. This mission statement also claims the athletic program teaches students to “conduct themselves with honesty and integrity … while developing a commitment to teamwork and service to the community.” However, Brown used a small, private committee that gathered no input from affected teams, to make a decision that has left the community heartbroken. In addition, Brown delivered this message in a wholly insensitive way. As an institution, Brown has taken many steps to instill in us the fundamental values of integrity, honoring commitment and respecting our community, yet by relaying this information to us in such a way, the administration has gone against their core principles as representatives of such a prestigious school.

The decision not only impacts current student-athletes, but also incoming students, who are eager to contribute to Brown’s athletic community. A total of 35 incoming recruited student-athletes turned down offers from other renowned institutions to attend Brown. As mentioned on the athletics administration’s Zoom call to discuss transfer options, as a result of the timing of this decision, these athletes either have to take a gap year in order to transfer to another school or give up their dream of ever playing a D1 collegiate sport. Current students will similarly have to take a gap year in order to transfer if they want to play four years of varsity sports, preventing them from graduating on time. Coaches will become unemployed immediately, without any chance to plan for their future job search.

We deserve an explanation. In order to prevent these avoidable consequences, we are asking for this decision to be delayed by one year. This will allow incoming athletes the chance to play for Brown as was promised. It would also allow all athletes to compete while seeking options to transfer. Finally, it would offer coaches time to prepare themselves, and their families, for the next step in their careers. Due to the covert decision-making process, we are also asking for a transparent report of how this decision was made.

With the advice of “outside consultants,” our athletic careers were ended in an instant by members of Brown’s appointed committee. Our only severance was advice on how to leave the school. Through this decision-making process, Brown deceived us, used faulty information to judge our teams and showed us we are expendable after stripping us of our passion. These actions do not exemplify the values that make Brown such a special institution. We believe that in the time of a global pandemic and righteous protests, although this decision for college sports is far less important, it is crucial that we as a community take steps to act as one, rather than act disjointedly. Thus, we urge Brown University to uphold our requests to bring this community back together.

Until then, 150 former student-athletes are left feeling unvalued, and the remaining 750 are left wondering who’s next.

Alexa Jacobs ’21 and Catherine Kimmel ’21 are incoming captains for Brown Women’s Squash. Maximo Moyer ’21 is an incoming captain for Brown Men’s Squash. Alexa can be reached at alexa_jacobs@brown.edu, Catherine can be reached at catherine_kimmel@brown.edu and Maximo can be reached at maximo_moyer@brown.edu. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.

Your former varsity athletes,

Hughes Benjamin (Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field), Bretram Rogers (Men’s Track and Field), Calvin Perkins (Men’s Track and Field), Joseph Grula (Men’s Track and Field), David Scherrer (Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field)

Maximo Moyer (Men’s Squash), William Glaser (Men’s Squash), JP Champa (Men’s Squash), Andrew Wei (Men’s Squash), Alexa Jacobs (Women’s Squash), Catherine Kimmel (Women’s Squash)

Winnie McCabe (Women’s Golf), Naomi Lee (Women’s Golf), Pinya Pipatjarasgit (Women’s Golf)

Chuck Isgar (Men’s Golf)

Lauren Reischer (Equestrian), Hannah Woolley (Equestrian), Elena Newman (Equestrian), Maya Taylor (Equestrian)

Anna Susini (Women’s Fencing)

Nathan Sinai (Men’s Fencing)

Maggie Beardsley (Skiing), Maddie McCarthy (Skiing)

 

Supporters: 

E.J. Perry (Senior Football)

Cal Flanders (Senior Football)

Tamenang Choh (Captain Men’s Basketball)

Gracie Whelan (Captain Women’s Track and Field)

Samantha Valentine (Captain Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field)

Hannah Butler (Captain Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field)

Felicia Renelus (Captain Women’s Track and Field)

Ijeoma Uche (Captain Women’s Track and Field)

Erin Schafer (Captain Women’s Lacrosse)

Maggie Fowler (Captain Women’s Lacrosse)

Allison Lanzone (Captain Women’s Lacrosse)

Sydney Cummings (Captain Women’s Soccer)

Sara Bermudez (Captain Women’s Soccer)

Cameron Brown (Captain Women’s Soccer)

Karina Wang (Captain Women’s Rugby)

Joe Lomuscio (Captain Baseball)

Collin Garner (Captain Baseball)

Madi Cranford (Senior Softball)

Grace Ladd (Senior Softball)

Kat Clum (Junior Softball)

Lexi King (Women’s Field Hockey)

Kelly Raymond (Women’s Field Hockey)

Anna Kaneb (Women’s Field Hockey)

Abby Nearis (Captain Women’s Hockey)

Maddie Fouts (Senior Women’s Hockey)

Gus Hirschfeld (Captain Men’s Crew)

Thomas Phelps (Captain Men’s Crew)

Riley Pestorious (Captain Men’s Swimming and Diving and Herald Editorial Page Board Member)

Alex Park (Captain Men’s Swimming and Diving)

Reid Arwood (Captain Men’s Swimming and Diving)

Victoria Center (Senior Women’s Swimming and Diving)

Individual Members of Women’s Swimming and Diving

Rose Domonoske (Captain Gymnastics)

Mei Li Costa (Captain Gymnastics)

McKenna Dale (Captain Women’s Basketball)

Dominique Leonidas (Captain Women’s Basketball)

William Mims (Senior Men’s Soccer)

Kaitlyn Cook (Senior Women’s Water Polo)

Adam Fuller (Senior Men’s Water Polo)

Aidan Reilly (Senior Men’s Water Polo)

Serena Irwin (Captain Women’s Crew)

Addie Dahl (Captain Women’s Crew)

Camila Meyer-Bosse (Captain Women’s Crew)

Courtney Kowalsky (Senior Women’s Tennis)

Teddy Van Eck (Senior Men’s Tennis)

Ching Lam (Senior Men’s Tennis)

Gabrielle Moriconi (Captain Volleyball)

Paris Winkler (Captain Volleyball)

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