97-148 (Title IX Compliance)
Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1997-1998 index

Distributed June 23, 1998
Contact: Mark Nickel

Cohen v. Brown

Brown and plaintiffs seek court's approval of Title IX joint agreement

Brown University and attorneys for plaintiffs in a Title IX athletics discrimination case received the District Court's preliminary approval of a joint agreement that will settle remaining legal issues in the Title IX compliance case.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Brown University and attorneys for plaintiffs today received preliminary approval from U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres of a joint agreement that will resolve all remaining legal issues in the Title IX case. Final approval could come later this fall.

Under terms of the agreement, Brown will ensure that the proportion of women among varsity athletes will vary by no more than 3.5 percent from the percentage of women in the undergraduate student body. It will also provide funding assurances for certain teams for a specified period of time.

The University reserved the right, without objection by the plaintiffs, to implement a compliance plan of its own design. The University's plan, originally submitted to the court in April 1997, called for minimum roster sizes for all teams and upper limits on the size of men's teams. An earlier decision by Senior Judge Raymond Pettine had ordered the University to elevate several women's teams to full University-funded status. That order was reversed by the First Circuit Court of Appeals and remanded to District Court in Providence for reconsideration of Brown's compliance plan.

"This agreement achieves two important goals for Brown," said Laura Freid, executive vice president for public affairs and University relations. "It preserves the University's decision-making autonomy and provides badly needed clarity and guidance on Title IX's proportionality requirements. It is gratifying to have resolved these remaining issues to the satisfaction of both parties."

The University will provide three donor-funded women's teams - fencing, skiing and water polo - with funding assurances for three years, allowing them time to develop dependable levels of donor support. The teams will receive approximately $25,000 in the first year, 95 percent of that amount in the second and 90 percent in the third year. (Fencing is administered jointly for men and women.)

The women's gymnastics team, one of two teams that filed suit against the University, also will be donor-funded under the agreement. It will receive approximately $64,000 on the same declining scale, with a fourth year at 90 percent. (Women's volleyball, the other team in the original lawsuit, was returned to University-funded varsity status in 1994.)

While awaiting reconsideration of its compliance plan, Brown implemented several of the plan's provisions, improving the proportion of women among all athletes. During the 1997-98 academic year, 52.1 percent of all varsity athletes were women, according to David Roach, director of athletics at Brown. The addition of women's water polo as a donor-funded varsity sport should bring that figure to more than 53 percent next year. Women accounted for approximately 53.3 percent of Brown's 1997-98 undergraduate student body (3,012 of 5,652 students).

"The 3.5-percent variance gives us a clear number to use in designing and managing our athletic program," Roach said, "and it will give us the flexibility to accommodate normal changes in roster sizes from year to year.

"Brown has always been a national leader in women's athletics," Roach said. "We will continue to provide women and men with a wide variety of varsity teams and an excellent intercollegiate athletic experience."

Editors: Copies of the agreement and compliance plan are available at the News Bureau.

University-funded varsity teams, 1998-99

Men                                         Women

1. Basketball      7. Lacrosse	            1. Basketball      8. Softball
2. Baseball        8. Soccer                2. Crew            9. Squash
3. Crew	           9. Swimming/Diving       3. Cross-country  10. Swimming/Diving
4. Cross-country  10. Tennis                4. Field Hockey   11. Tennis
5. Football       11. Track (indoor)        5. Ice Hockey     12. Track (indoor)
6. Ice Hockey     12. Track (outdoor)       6. Lacrosse       13. Track (outdoor)
                  13. Wrestling             7. Soccer         14. Volleyball

Donor-funded varsity teams, 1998-99

Men              Women              Coed

1. Fencing       1. Fencing         1. Equestrian
2. Squash        2. Gymnastics      2. Golf
3. Water Polo    3. Skiing
                 4. Water Polo