UConn reinstates women's rowing for two years, agrees to assess program's long-term future

The 2020-2021 UConn women's rowing team. Photo courtesy of Grace Baldauf.

The 2020-2021 UConn women's rowing team. Photo courtesy of Grace Baldauf.

Maggie Vanoni -- Hearst Connecticut Media

Just two months after a judge temporarily prevented UConn’s women’s rowing team from being eliminated, the university announced Thursday night that the team will be in place for at least two years.

“We continue, as we must, to assess our compliance with Title IX and we have determined that additional participation opportunities for female student athletes are necessary at this time,” the university said in a release. “Accordingly, we have agreed to reinstate the women’s rowing team for two years and to stay the pending litigation initiated by members of the rowing team.”

The school announced in June 2020 it would cut the team, in addition to three men’s teams. The university said in the release that it came “as part of a more expansive plan aimed at securing the long-term fiscal sustainability of the athletics division, and the university as a whole.”

The cuts — which also included men’s swimming and diving, cross country, and tennis — came as the school mandated the athletic department reduce its budget subsidy by 25% percent over the next three years.

For the rowing team specifically, the university listed facilities in the release as a “major factor” behind the choice to cut the sport, citing needed improvements. The school doesn’t own those facilities, the release notes. The program uses a boathouse on Coventry Lake.

Rowing team members sought legal action after the announced cuts, claiming the school was violating federal Title IX law with the decision to get rid of their team, according to a court ruling.

Those members were seeking a temporary restraining order, and got it in May. That meant the school was blocked from eliminating the sport until August, when a preliminary injunction hearing was set to be held.

“Because Plaintiffs have established that they will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of injunctive relief and that there is a substantial likelihood of success on their Title IX claim, the motion is granted,” U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill wrote in the ruling.

Underhill’s ruling said UConn was not in compliance with federal Title IX law since 2012.

The university said in their release Thursday that while the sport is reinstated, they would “conduct a more detailed assessment of the costs associated with possible program upgrades and work to secure the potential long-term reinstatement of the rowing program.”

Paul Doyle and David Borges contributed to this report.