College athletic departments across the United States are continuing to reverse course on some of the decisions they made last summer.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, an NCAA Division III school, announced last week that it’s reinstating women’s swimming and diving and women’s tennis, effective immediately.
"We will move quickly over the next week to meet with student-athletes and staff to ensure our intent is clear,” UMass Dartmouth athletic director Amanda Van Voorhis said. “Our commitment to enhance the quality and increase the number participating in our tennis and swimming/diving programs is a priority.”
The university’s press release said that the continuation of women’s swimming and tennis is “the first of several anticipated changes as part of an overall strategy to better align athletic participation opportunities for women with the female undergraduate population.”
The programs, which didn’t compete this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic had been slated to be cut since July 2020, when Dartmouth announced it was discontinuing women’s swimming, women’s tennis, women’s equestrian, men’s golf, men’s lacrosse, men’s tennis and co-ed sailing.
“The University's July 2020 decision was based on outside reviews of the University's intercollegiate athletics program to provide the best possible competitive and co-curricular experiences for student-athletes,” the release reads. “The reviews analyzed major aspects of the current Department of Athletics & Recreation structure and metrics such as available resources, gender equity, enrollment, and facilities to formulate a long-term strategic plan for athletic competition at UMass Dartmouth.”
SwimSwam reported that government data shows that UMass Dartmouth had 284 athletes in its men’s varsity programs and 184 in its women’s varsity programs during the 2018-19 school year. Therefore, female student-athletes accounted for less than 40 percent of UMass Dartmouth’s varsity athletes, while women made up 47.6 percent of the student body.