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William & Mary Commits to Previously Cut Sports

Brock Fritz

Men’s track and field, swimming and gymnastics are staying at the College of William & Mary for the long term.

According to The Virginian-Pilot, William & Mary president Katherine Rowe announced Wednesday that increased support and donations have ensured that the four sports — with men’s indoor and outdoor track each counting as one — will remain at the Division I university in Williamsburg, Va., for the foreseeable future.

“We are pleased to announce that these programs will continue to compete, without a stated potential end date, as do all other athletics programs at William & Mary,” Rowe said in a statement. “To be successful, every sport at William & Mary will require sustained higher levels of philanthropic support going forward.

 

“We recognize that every sports program annually depends upon generous support from alumni and friends in order to thrive. Moreover, W&M Athletics as a whole depends upon that generosity in order to avoid a moment in which sport sponsorship must be reevaluated to ensure the department’s financial sustainability while advancing equity.”

 

The William & Mary athletic department has been in flux since Sept. 3, when Rowe was among the university leaders to sign an open letter announcing that the school was discontinuing seven sports — men’s and women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, and women’s volleyball — after the 2020-21 school year.

Related content: William & Mary Dropping Seven Sports After 2020-21

“The costs associated with operating a department that sponsors 23 varsity teams — and what is now required for them to excel at a high level — have grown dramatically over time,” read William & Mary’s September announcement, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in the cuts. “These have become unsustainable. The pandemic has made these budget constraints acute and has brought us to a point of reckoning.”

The decision led to accusations that athletic director Samantha Huge’s announcement plagiarized a Stanford press release. Huge was facing a faculty no-confidence vote when she resigned in October.

Related content: William & Mary AD Huge Resigns in Wake of Sports Cuts

With Title IX concerns, William & Mary and interim director of athletics Jeremy Martin reinstated women’s gymnastics, swimming and volleyball in October. In November, the university reset the entire process by reinstating all seven of the teams through at least the 2021-22 school year.

Related content: William & Mary Reinstates Three Women’s Sports

That timeframe has been extended for the long term. The Virginian-Pilot reports that Martin released a letter saying that donors are up 13 percent in fiscal year 2021 and that expendable donations have increased 79 percent. That contrasts with the 36 percent drop of donors from fiscal year 2019 to 2020.

“The magnitude of the financial challenge is not diminished by a single year,” Martin said. “It must be repeated and increased each and every year.”

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