Brown U. rebuts ‘conspiracy’ in fight over women’s sports

U.S. and World

FILE – In this Sept. 25, 2019, file photo, people rest on grass while reading at Brown University in Providence, R.I. Brown is rebutting what the Ivy League school calls “spurious conspiracy claims” as it responds to an allegation that is is failing to comply with a 1998 agreement ensuring gender equity in sports. The school announced this year that it was cutting several varsity women’s and men’s sports and reducing them to club status. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Brown University rebutted what the school calls “spurious conspiracy claims” as it responded to an allegation that it is failing to comply with a 1998 agreement ensuring gender equity in sports.

The Ivy League school this year announced it was cutting several varsity women’s and men’s sports, and reducing them to club status. Several men’s teams were later restored.

In response, attorneys for Public Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island filed a motion in federal court in June alleging that the Providence, Rhode Island, institution violated terms of the 1998 agreement to provide gender equity in varsity sports in order to comply with federal Title IX law.

The agreement stemmed from a lawsuit filed after Brown dropped women’s gymnastics and volleyball as varsity sports.

Brown last month released internal documents, including emails from high-ranking school officials, that Public Justice and the ACLU said show Brown wanted to undermine and dismantle the 1998 agreement.

Brown responded Wednesday, calling those accusations baseless, and said the plaintiffs did not have access, when they filed the June motion, to the most recent documents that show Brown remains in compliance.

“It is perhaps unsurprising that since plaintiffs came into possession of that data, they have resorted to spurious conspiracy claims and focused their energies on the process that led to Brown’s decision, rather than the hard data that makes Brown’s compliance with the Joint Agreement all but a certainty,” the school said in a statement.

Lynette Labinger, on behalf of the ACLU, said the organization is not promoting a conspiracy.

“The emails and conversations among Brown’s leadership are now public and available for anyone to read in their entirety,” she said in an email Wednesday. “What they show is undeniable: The administration at Brown expressed a desire to, in their own words, ‘kill’ the original consent decree, which they characterized as a ‘pestilential thing.’ Those are strong words whose meanings are clear.”

Brown President Christina Paxson said the school fully supports women’s sports.

“As someone who loves sports, routinely goes to the games and cheers these women athletes on, I have no intention on backsliding on our commitment to equity for women. It’s not only our legal obligation, it’s the right thing to do,” she said in a statement.

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