Brown University reversed course on a May 28 decision that would have seen men’s track, field and cross country — considered three individual sports by the school — move to club status.
The original decision was made as part of the university’s Excellence in Brown Athletics Plan, which called for revisions to the school’s varsity sports offerings; enhancing existing club sports and adding new ones, an elevated focus on recruitment; maintaining roster sizes; improving coaching and conditioning resources and athletic facility improvements. That plan dates back to a 2018-19 external review, which found that Brown’s number of varsity sports — third highest in the nation — was a barrier to competitiveness.
The change on the track, field and cross country programs came in a letter from university president Christina H. Paxson, which cited feedback from students, alumni and parents on the importance of the program to the broader campus community.
"Our students, alumni and parents took the time to share their deeply personal stories of the transformative impact that participation in track, field and cross country has had on their lives," she wrote. "Many noted that, through Brown's history, these sports have been a point of entry to higher education for academically talented students who otherwise would not have had the opportunity, many of them students of color. In addition, we heard from members of the women's track, field and cross country teams who made a compelling case that eliminating the men's program would adversely impact the women's program."
The decision to reinstate these programs will have implications for other teams, Paxson said, including roster sizes for other teams.
“However, we have determined that with some modifications, Brown will be able to remain in compliance with the requirements of the legal settlement and with Title IX for the time being,” she wrote.
With the reversal on men’s track, field and cross country, the initiative will result in the net reduction of varsity programs from 38 to 32.