Law Firm of Winston & Strawn, Led by Jeffrey Kessler, Files Letter with University President Seeking Reinstatement of Varsity Teams
CHICAGO, June 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The global law firm of Winston & Strawn today sent a letter on behalf of a coalition of student-athletes at Brown University whose teams were abruptly and unlawfully eliminated from varsity competition.
As part of Brown University‘s so-called “Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative,” eight teams were discontinued without notice on May 28, including men‘s and women‘s fencing, men‘s and women‘s golf, women‘s alpine skiing, men‘s and women‘s squash, and women‘s equestrian. Affected student-athletes and their families have joined forces to retain a legal team led by Winston & Strawn Co-Executive Chairman and leading sports law attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, and Winston sports law partner Jonathan Amoona, to fight for their legal rights.
The attached letter calls for Brown University President Christina Paxson to immediately engage in discussions with the coalition with the purpose of reinstating the affected teams. The student-athletes on these teams were purposely misled by Brown into believing that their varsity teams would continue, causing them to forgo any opportunity to transfer or accept admittance at another school.
Despite a long history of success, Brown eliminated these programs immediately and without notice to the athletes (or their coaches) in the middle of a global pandemic. It has since been revealed that the University engaged in a years-long secret process of eliminating teams while it continued to recruit athletes to compete in programs that would no longer exist. Brown withheld this information knowing full well that it was highly material to the students’ academic, athletic, and financial decision-making processes. By the time the University revealed its decision to the affected student-athletes, it was too late for them to transfer to comparable schools and resume (or for recruits, begin) their varsity careers.
“Brown‘s purposeful misrepresentations and material omissions run counter to Rhode Island law,” said Kessler. “This law dictates that universities, like all other businesses, must act with honesty and in good faith. Brown fell well short of this legal duty when it concealed the fact that it was planning, since at least January, on eliminating a number of its varsity teams even though it has repeatedly acknowledged it had no economic need to do so. The school waited until it was too late for the affected student athletes to transfer, and then took action so that their participation on varsity teams – a key part of their experience at Brown – would be ripped away.”
“I love Brown, but I feel like my teammates and I were deceived,” said Maddie McCarthy, Academic All-American, rising sophomore, and member of the Brown Women‘s Alpine Ski Team. “I fought hard to be admitted to Brown, to make the team and to contribute to our success. To not receive the same honesty that is expected of us is more than devastating.”
“I was honored to be recruited by Brown and thrilled at the prospect of competing this fall,” said Alexis Kim, rising freshman and member of the Women‘s Golf Team. “To not have the opportunity to compete is disappointing, but not as hurtful as being misled by a school in which I placed my trust. Competing at this level is part of who I am, and I would have preferred to choose a college knowing the truth.”
As a result of Brown‘s actions, student-athletes have been placed in the position of waiting a full year before they can return to varsity competition at another institution, or in the case of rising freshmen, begin their varsity careers. Rising seniors currently have no options to compete in their last year of varsity play without postponing their education.
Winston & Strawn LLP is an international law firm with 15 offices located throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. More information about the firm and its world-renowned sports litigation practice is available at www.winston.com.
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SOURCE Winston & Strawn LLP
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