Judge approves settlement between Brown and athletes over women's sports

Judge approves settlement between Brown and athletes over women's sports

A legal battle over women's athletics at Brown University in Providence, R.I., ended Tuesday with a federal judge's approval of a settlement agreement reached in the fall.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that U.S. District Judge John McConnell Jr accepted the agreement between the university and attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and student-athletes at Brown resisting the reduction of several women's sports teams at the school to club status, which would affect their funding levels.

The settlement agreed upon in September and signed by the judge Tuesday restored the school's women's varsity-level tennis and equestrian teams; several other teams remained clubs as a result of the agreement. Under the settlement, a 1998 agreement ensuring gender equality in athletics at Brown will also be vacated in 2024, according to the AP. Bloomberg reported at the time that the agreement will also require the that each gender's representation in Brown's student athletics programs must be within 2.25 percent of the overall gender ratio of the undergraduate student body.

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“We can provide excellent athletics opportunities for women and men, be a leader in upholding Title IX and have a competitive varsity program. And we will," said Brown's president, Christina Paxson, in September.

ACLU attorneys said in a statement that the agreement hammered out with the university would provide codified protections for athletes at the school for years to come.

“While we wish we could have convinced Brown to restore all five teams, we were able to hammer out an agreement that has restored at least two and will hold the line against any more cuts for the next four years,” said ACLU of Rhode Island attorney Lynette Labinger.

“These are valuable benefits for our women athletes in the face of a growing national trend to shrink college sports programs across the country,” she continued.

A spokesperson for Brown told the AP that the settlement "enables Brown University to move forward with key provisions of a plan to strengthen the competitiveness of its athletics teams and uphold its long-standing commitment to Title IX in providing equal opportunities in athletics for women and men."