Brown University has reversed its decision to turn men’s varsity track, field and cross country into club sports citing the negative impact the move would have on diversity and Black students, reported The Providence Journal.
According to a letter released Tuesday night, men’s track, field and cross country were among the varsity sports that have been “points of entry to higher education” for low-income, intelligent students, many of whom are Black.
“We have heard clearly from our community over the past couple of weeks that the University’s decision to transition men’s varsity track, field and cross country to club status will have real and lasting implications for efforts to build and sustain diverse and inclusive communities for our students at Brown, and particularly our community of black students and alumni,” wrote Brown president Christina H. Paxson in the letter.
She added that while track, field and cross country teams will now stay varsity level, the school is still planning to change the status of other varsity sports before the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. According to a university announcement last month, the following sports will take on club status: men’s and women’s fencing; men’s and women’s golf; women’s skiing; men’s and women’s squash; and women’s equestrian. Meanwhile, women’s sailing and coed sailing will transition from club to varsity status.
Prior to the cuts, Brown sponsored 38 varsity teams, making it third in the nation — behind only its Ivy League colleagues Stanford and Harvard — for number of varsity teams. However, because the school only won 2.8% of Ivy League titles between 2008-2018, Brown hopes the cuts will boost its competitiveness.