Brown to pay more than $1M in battle over women’s sports

The Van Wickle Gates at Brown University. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday approved an order that requires Brown University to pay more than $1 million to cover attorneys’ fees and other expenses related to a legal case brought by several student-athletes who challenged the Ivy League school’s plan to drop several women’s varsity sports.

The women said the plan to reduce the varsity sports to club status in 2020 violated a consent decree that dated to 1998 and stemmed from a landmark Title IX case. In that case, students challenged the school’s decision to eliminate women’s gymnastics and volleyball.

Title IX is the federal law requiring equal opportunities for women.

Tuesday’s order includes $1.135 million for the attorneys’ fees and $40,000 for litigation expenses.

“This order should send a message to schools nationwide,” Arthur Bryant, who represented the women, said in a statement. “Title IX is the law. It prohibits sex discrimination. If schools violate Title IX, they will pay. If schools violate Title IX, refuse to admit it, and fight in the courts, they will pay more.”

In the settlement of the 2020 dispute, Brown agreed to reinstate its women’s varsity equestrian and fencing teams.

A voicemail seeking comment was left with a Brown spokesperson.