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Brown denies allegation of noncompliance to Title IX commitment in new court filing

Sept. 2 motion comes after plaintiffs challenged decision to cut numerous athletic programs

In a new court filing Wednesday, the University denied claims that Brown has faltered in its commitment to Title IX compliance under regulations agreed upon in the 1998 Cohen v. Brown ruling.

The University maintained that the decision to cut a number of athletics programs from the varsity roster this spring was made with careful consideration to gender equity and compliance with the joint agreement, despite the June motions by the original plaintiffs that allege noncompliance.

The 1998 joint agreement states that beginning July 1, 2001, the fraction of varsity opportunities for women at Brown could not fall to more than 3.5 percent below the fraction of undergraduates who are women, according to a motion to enforce judgment filed in June.

But, “if Brown University eliminates any ‘intercollegiate athletic teams for women,’ then ‘the percentage of each gender participating in Brown’s intercollegiate athletic program shall be within 2.25 percent of each gender’s percentage in the undergraduate enrollment for the same academic year,” The Herald previously reported.

The University contends that even as it cut teams, it has remained in compliance with these standards. “Over the course of months, Brown looked at this gender proportionality requirement from every angle, and did not make a single decision about its varsity athletics offerings without first assuring itself that Brown would be able to continue to comply with the Joint Agreement,” according to Wednesday’s court filing. “Indeed, the detailed roster information that Brown gathered before it announced its final decision left no doubt about Brown’s ability to do so.”

In the filing, the University argues that the plaintiffs lacked complete information about the University's rosters. “When they filed their Emergency Motion in June, Plaintiffs did not yet have access to the most recent roster Declaration Forms which unequivocally show that Brown will once again be in compliance with the Joint Agreement in the 2020-21 academic year,” the filing stated.

“It is perhaps unsurprising that since Plaintiffs came into possession of that data, they have resorted to spurious conspiracy claims and focused their energies on the process that led to Brown’s decision, rather than the hard data that makes Brown’s compliance with the Joint Agreement all but a certainty,” the filing stated.

The plaintiffs still allege noncompliance. “Brown University should be ashamed of itself,” said Arthur Bryant, Of Counsel at Bailey & Glasser LLP and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. Emails released as evidence in a recent motion from University Chancellor Samuel Mencoff, Athletics Director Jack Hayes and President Christina Paxson P ’19 show “Brown intentionally violated the consent decree because it wanted to, in its words ‘kill this pestilential thing,’” Bryant said.

“Now Brown has come forward with a press release that doesn’t address any of that at all. Instead, it accuses us of making ‘conspiracy claims.’ This would be laughable if these issues weren’t so serious,” Bryant said. “This is a sign, sadly, of how desperate Brown has gotten,” he added.

Paxson — who was among administrators and board members quoted criticizing restrictions placed on Brown under Title IX regulations in the released emails — said that her appraisal of the regulations as overly restrictive is distinct from her support for women’s athletics in a Wednesday press release.

“As someone who loves sports, routinely goes to the games and cheers these women athletes on, I have no intention on backsliding on our commitment to equity for women,” she said in the press release. “It’s not only our legal obligation, it’s the right thing to do.”

In the released emails between Paxson and senior administrators at the University, she wrote that any intentions to get out of the 1998 consent decree “could rile up the Cohens of the world and put us in a defensive posture.”

Hayes also expressed support for female athletes and dismissed allegations that the University is not committed to upholding the 1998 agreement. “The tactics being employed by the plaintiffs in this case have been shocking,” he said in the press release for the most recent University court filing. “By making inferences and connections between unrelated statements, the plaintiffs in this case have built an absolutely false narrative about Brown’s commitment to diversity and gender equity.”

Additional reporting by Benjamin Pollard

This story is developing. Check back for updates.



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