UConn Huskies are reinstating the women’s rowing team after the Title IX challenge to cut

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STORRS, Connecticut – The University of Connecticut has reversed course in a controversial budget cut and announced that it will maintain its rowing program for women for at least the next two years.

The move announced on Thursday evening comes after a federal judge May issue an injunction that prevented the school from disbanding the team at the end of last season.

US District Judge Stefan Underhill ruled that rowers are likely to prevail in their lawsuitwho claims the team’s elimination would violate Title IX, the federal law that guarantees equal access to women in education, including athletics.

“We are continuing to review, as we must, our compliance with Title IX and have determined that additional participation opportunities are required for female athletes at this point,” the school said in a statement. “Accordingly, we have agreed to reinstate the women’s rowing team for two years and to suspend the pending litigation initiated by members of the rowing team in order to secure the potential long-term resumption of the rowing program.”

The school plans to add scholarships, increase the program’s recruiting budget, and work on upgrading its equipment and facilities, both sides said.

Maggie Mlynek, one of 12 rowers who filed the lawsuit, said it was worth taking the news to her teammates.

“I can’t wait to see what the program looks like in 10 years,” said Mlynek, now a UConn graduate, not only doing within her own women’s programs, but the model they are setting for other universities. “

Rowing coach Jennifer Sanford said she looks forward to working with the school to restore the program and expressed pride in the struggle of her team and alumni.

“Last year’s team in particular showed great strength, courage, determination and perseverance as it was cut by the pandemic and the team,” she said. “The returning rowers and the coaching team will take full advantage of this opportunity.”

UConn announced the elimination of the team in June 2020, saying it would need to reduce its $ 42 million sports deficit by about $ 10 million a year and reduce the need for subsidies for the sports department by 25 over the next three years % reduce.

The school decided to end women’s rowing, men’s swimming and diving, men’s cross-country skiing, and men’s tennis by the end of this school year. The school said it considered the civil rights implications before taking this step.

According to the school’s annual filing with the NCAA, the rowing team has a roster of 38 rowers, but had 62 participants in the program and total operating costs totaling $ 1,345,104 for fiscal 2020. UConn Rowing awarded at least 32 rowers partial scholarships to one Price of $ 713,417 and his trainers made a total of $ 196,575, according to the report.

Underhill found compelling evidence that UConn oversold its women’s programs to create the appearance that it was complying with the law. He also wrote that the evidence presented during a court hearing last week also showed that UConn has had participation gaps every year for the past 13 years.

UConn said the original decision to eliminate the rowing team came in part from a determination that major and costly repairs were required to the program’s private boathouse on Coventry Lake.

“UConn prides itself on being a target school for women athletes and as we are constantly reviewing our Title IX responsibilities, we will work to support the rowing team in the coming seasons,” the school said.

Ashley Kalinauskas was part of a group of rowing alumni who filed an initial Title IX complaint with the Department of Education over the decision to end the program.

She said they plan to provide financial assistance to make necessary improvements to the facilities and keep the program going.

“Not just UConn alumni, but rowing alumni from all over the country, we have all come together to support this team,” she said. “It’s about enabling women to participate in equitable sport.”


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