Distributed March 29, 1995
News Service Contact: Mark Nickel
Robert A. Reichley, Executive Vice President
Brown University will appeal U.S. District Court’s ruling in Title IX case
Brown University intends to appeal the Title IX ruling announced by the U.S. District Court in Providence. The text of Vice President Robert A. Reichley’s statement follows here.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Unless further study of the opinion suggests otherwise, Brown University will pursue its arguments in the Title IX case before the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. Robert A. Reichley, executive vice president for University relations, has issued the following statement.
This Title IX case began nearly four years ago, when Brown changed the status of two men’s and two women’s varsity teams. Since that time, our athletic program has undergone extremely close scrutiny by interested parties inside and outside the University. Despite a host of disagreements over legal and statistical issues, all parties in this case – including the plaintiffs’ own attorneys – have agreed on one point: Brown’s program of athletics for women is indisputably one of the nation’s largest and best.
Since Title IX was promulgated more than two decades ago, Brown has been a leader in developing a major program of athletics for women. From that early start, we believe we have obeyed the letter and spirit of the law, and we are proud of the women’s athletics program we have established. Brown’s commitment to excellence in women’s athletics will continue independently of this lawsuit and whatever appeals may be made.
And so, today’s ruling, while not entirely surprising, is extremely disappointing. I am hard-pressed to understand the decision in view of the evidence the University brought before the court. Based on a preliminary reading, nothing in the court’s opinion leads me to believe that the University’s understanding of Title IX’s requirements is incorrect – particularly regarding the central issue of proportionality.
Proportionality has always been the primary question in this case. Brown University continues to believe that strict numerical proportionality – that is, a conformance of gender ratios between the athletic and general undergraduate student bodies – is neither fair to the student body nor required by Title IX. We believe that any fully compliant athletic program must accommodate the interests and abilities of all students, regardless of gender. Title IX was never intended to be a quota bill for athletes. Its intent was to eliminate discrimination in education. Proportionality is not and should not be a fair measure of Title IX compliance.
The University has a fiduciary responsibility to exercise control over its entire program, from building maintenance to faculty salaries to libraries. These are not easy times for higher education. Every dollar is important, every budgeted expense must be carefully considered and weighed against all others. Brown University will continue to support its three highest priorities: instruction, scholarship funds, and libraries. We already run one of the nation’s most ambitious athletic programs for an institution of our size. Brown cannot increase the proportion of unrestricted funds committed to our athletic program. We appreciate the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ recognition that the University must maintain its autonomy and the District Court’s assurance that courts will not attempt to micromanage programs. It is interesting to note that no appellate court has yet faced a situation where the law would result in the de facto elimination of men’s programs.
Unless further study of the opinion suggests otherwise, the University will take its case to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. We will do so in order to clarify the issue of proportionality, which we believe is in the best interests of the nation and all intercollegiate teams, especially those organized for women.