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Op-eds, Opinions

Moyer ’21— From eight former varsity teams: We have still been wronged

By
Op-Ed Contributor
Friday, June 19, 2020

Earlier this month, 65 returning varsity athletes on the Men’s Track & Field and Men’s Cross Country teams were able to show the administration that their decision was ill informed; their team was reinstated. To those 65 men, we say congratulations. However, 97 athletes still remain wronged. Athletic Director Jack Hayes still ended our athletic careers with a 55-minute warning. He still destabilized us during a pandemic. He still laid off our coaches with a mere 10-minute notice. Neither he nor the administration has acknowledged how poorly Brown has treated us, or given us the chance to advocate for our teams before ruining them. We have still been wronged.

The anti-student-athlete actions of the administration have only worsened since the decision to cut 11 varsity teams was made. For example, in what we thought was an olive branch, Athletic Director Hayes set up a Zoom meeting with the golf team. The team waited on the video call for two hours. He never showed up. What’s more, President Paxson P’19 has replied to many teammates, alumni and parent emails with the same automated response. One automated response to a squash player began, “Thank you for writing regarding track the squash program at Brown.” The administration could not even take the time to proofread an automated email response. We are being disrespected and ignored.

After reinstating the Men’s Track & Field and Cross Country teams, President Paxson’s reasoning for the original cuts seems to be even more unsubstantiated. The primary motivation behind the decision was increasing “competitiveness” by reducing squad sizes and freeing up financial resources. In President Paxson’s recent email it is clear that “modifications” will have to be made to meet the University’s Title IX requirements. We struggle to find any way that this fails to result in the reduction of roster sizes of other men’s teams — which, by undermining competitiveness, directly contradicts one of the central goals of the initiative. Due to our small squad sizes, the remaining cut teams have a total of only 15 incoming recruits. It is highly unlikely that cutting just 15 recruits is going to fulfill President Paxson’s stated goal of “excellence” in our athletic program as a whole for the remaining 32 teams. On the topic of financing, using data collected from the Save Brown Track website we found that the University spends more on one men’s hockey player than it does on one fencer, squash player and golfer combined. Moreover, some teams have put together financing plans in an effort to become more financially independent. Therefore, many of our teams could maintain their varsity status without costing Brown a dime. Before even touching on our community engagement, true competitiveness or our teams’ leading academic indices, a simple question must be answered: Why are our teams, with only 15 recruits and potentially no financial strain on the department, being made the scapegoat for the entire Athletic Department’s incompetencies?

The goal of this initiative was to create teams that can win Ivy League championships. However, based on an assessment of the athletic department alone, we have again fallen short of our top rival Harvard. Unlike Brown, Harvard conducted a community-oriented, transparent review of the athletic department commissioned by the dean of the Arts and Sciences school — a review that incorporated the opinions of students, coaches and alumni. Meanwhile, Brown conducted a secretive, heavy-handed review, the results of which even author Malcolm Gladwell felt the need to respond to on Twitter. Perhaps this debacle will make it into his next book! If Brown is convinced we must either win Ivy League championships or be dismissed as varsity student-athletes, our athletic department and the administration must first be held to this same standard of excellence. Until then, the only thing we will lead the Ivy League in is Title IX violations.

We have still been wronged. After being blindsided, our eight teams have unsuccessfully asked for a year to present our case to the administration with accurate data. The leaders of 29 out of 32 remaining teams support us. Professors that have written to the University support us. Alumni that have published op-eds on the issue in The Brown Daily Herald support us. The whole community hears and supports us. President Paxson, the job of the Brown University President is to serve the community and the students. With this decision, you are serving neither. We ask that this decision be completely undone, and that a thorough, transparent review of the athletic department — one that takes the voices of students, coaches and the community into consideration — be undertaken.

Sincerely Your Former Varsity Captains,

Anna Susini (Women’s Fencing ’22),

Nathan Sinai (Men’s Fencing ’21),

Maximo Moyer (Men’s Squash ’21),

JP Champa (Men’s Squash ’21),

Will Glaser (Men’s Squash ’21),

Maya Taylor (Women’s Equestrian ’22),

Hannah Woolley (Women’s Equestrian ’21),

Lauren Resicher (Women’s Equestrian ’21),

Elena Newman (Women’s Equestrian ’22),

Chuck Isgar (Men’s Golf ’21),

Naomi Lee (Women’s Golf ’21),

Catherine Kimmel (Women’s Squash ’21),

Alexa Jacobs (Women’s Squash ’21)

Maddi McCarthy (Women’s Skiing ’23)

Pinya Pipatjarasgit (Women’s Golf ’22)

Brittany Park (Women’s Golf ’21)

Winnie McCabe (Women’s Golf ’21)

Maximo Moyer ’21 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.

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  1. Lana Mikkasen says:

    That sucks for you, but why should people who aren’t in the sports community care… I’m still trying to understand how you were “wronged” applies except for in regards to the shitty timing. It just seem so stupid right now to exert so much energy on this, so silly, best exemplified by the privileged dips hits who retained a goddamn law firm and are… suing the school? ??

    • ‘19 Alumni says:

      So people shouldn’t care about others who aren’t in their own community?

    • '09 Alumna says:

      Paxson and Hayes proudly admitted on multiple occasions that they lied to and duped students in order to prevent them from choosing other schools over Brown. Who is to say Paxson won’t use the exact same tactic when it comes time to cut some other non-athletic program at Brown? This is why the lawsuit matters.

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