Dartmouth College Athletic Director Harry Sheehy will retire this month in the wake of a Title IX controversy that forced the college to reinstate five teams cut in July.
In a statement Tuesday, college President Phil Hanlon praised Sheehy’s accomplishments, like helping to raise almost $30 million to fund 16 positions in the department. Hanlon last month publicly blamed Sheehy for the controversy sparked by the elimination of the women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams, women’s and men’s golf teams, and men’s lightweight rowing teams.
The college announced the program cuts in July, saying it was part of an effort to save money as the college faced revenue shortfalls because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When members of the women’s swim team threatened to bring a lawsuit against Dartmouth for violating Title IX, Hanlon announced a settlement that brought back all five teams. In his Jan. 29 announcement, Hanlon said Sheehy used faulty data when deciding which teams to be cut.
“To determine which teams would be eliminated, Director of Athletics Harry Sheehy and his team established a series of factors and considerations to be used in their assessment. We have recently learned that elements of the data that Athletics used to confirm continued Title IX compliance may not have been complete,” Hanlon said in the Jan. 29 statement.
California attorney Arthur Bryant, who represented the swim team members, met with Hanlon to demonstrate that the school was in violation of Title IX before the settlement was reached.
“Dartmouth screwed up royally,” Bryant said when the deal was announced. “It publicly announced it was eliminating teams to comply with Title IX when their elimination flagrantly violated Title IX.”
Title IX requires that schools provide equal access to all programs, including sports. Without the five teams, there were fewer opportunities for women Dartmouth students to engage in sports based on the student body population, according to Bryant.
Sheehy, a graduate of Williams College, spent a decade as the college athletic director. “I have been honored to serve Dartmouth athletics and would like to thank our student-athletes and alumni, DAAB, Dartmouth’s senior leadership group, the department’s senior leadership team, and all those who have supported our mission — within our department, across campus, and beyond,” he said in a statement.
Peter Roby, a Dartmouth alum (Class of 1979), a former Dartmouth assistant men’s basketball coach and former Harvard head men’s basketball coach, was named interim athletic director.
“I’m honored and humbled to be asked to serve the college and will do all I can to bring our athletics community together,” Roby said.
As part of the settlement, Hanlon announced Dartmouth is hiring an outside law firm, Holland & Knight, to conduct a gender equity review of the varsity athletic program, it will also ask the Ivy League athletic association to conduct a compliance review of NCAA rules, and the school is having its auditors conduct a process-and-control review of Dartmouth athletics.