STORRS, Conn. (AP/WTNH) — Members of UConn’s women’s rowing team have filed a federal lawsuit alleging UConn’s plan to eliminate their program violates their civil rights. They’re also hoping the school will rethink their decision.
Twelve rowers are named as defendants in the suit, which was filed as a class action on behalf of the entire team, citing Title IX, the federal law that ensures equal access to education for women, including in athletics.
UConn says it took Title IX into consideration before deciding last year to eliminate rowing and three men’s athletic programs. The move was made as part of budget cuts in the athletic department.
Member’s of the women’s rowing team we spoke with say they are family and their time on the team has left a lasting impact on their life.
The 12 rowers who have filed the suit are also asking the school to keep the team in tact until the lawsuit can be heard.
Madeline Bey, a UConn rowing team alumnus, said, “I was shocked and was also really sad that other, future generations of women would not be able to participate in the program.”
Kathy Les, UConn women’s rowing assistant coach added, “It really changes a person for the person. I’ve seen people grow up. I’ve seen people really find their voice, find their confidence. I don’t know if they’d find it otherwise without having this experience.”
We reached out to UConn and the school’s spokesperson says they’re reviewing the claims.
They said, in part, “While the university understands, appreciates, and fully shares the significant disappointment of the student-athletes, alumni, and fans of all four eliminated teams, we are confident that our actions in regard to women’s rowing and the other teams were consistent with the university’s obligations under Title IX.”