The internet has been abuzz over the last few days with breathless rumors that Reed is getting rid of women's rugby. The reports sparked a veritable inferno of outrage from alumni who played the game at Reed, many of whom instantly leaped to the conclusion that dark forces in the administration were bent on Evil And Nefarious Deeds (and presumably fulfilling a lifelong quest to rid the world of oblate spheroids).
But as Mark Twain once said, "the reports of my death have been much exaggerated." Reed is not, I repeat, not terminating women's rugby. However, Dean Mike Brody has decided to withdraw the team from league play after a conversation with its coach.
Dean Brody explained this decision in an email sent to several members of the team and to Michael Lombardo, Reed's athletic director. I'm posting it here because it is (in my view) the best summary of the situation that I have seen [[my emendations in double brackets]].
Subject: follow up
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2012 21:50:02 -0800
From: Mike Brody <email@example.com>
Reed College Student Services
Good evening. I want to thank all of you for taking the time to explain your perspectives regarding the current state of women's rugby at Reed, as well as your broader concerns. Having spoken with each of you at some length today, and having talked for over an hour with Val [[the former coach]], the following seems clear:
1) Women's rugby means a lot to many people on campus. It is a program with great potential that has a lot of room for improvement. Val feels that the team is not currently capable of playing safely or responsibly at the league level, and in light of conflicting reports from players and Michael, I have no alternative but to defer to Val's expert opinion. As such, and as much as I know this hurts, Reed cannot formally support or sanction team travel or league play at this time.
What Reed can do (and what I would very much like to do) is support the process of rebuilding the team so that it can once again function at some semblance of its potential and resume league play. To that end, Val has offered to lead workouts and help with team building. I hope that you players will see this as a demonstration of my support for the team and my commitment to its future, and that you will thoughtfully consider this offer.
2) There is a profound communication breakdown between some members of the women's rugby team and Michael Lombardo (copied here). In an effort to improve communication, and from there to effectively address the myriad issues the three players brought to me today and the issues Michael and Val have described, I strongly suggest that you [[team members and Michael]] pursue formal mediation. It is my hope that through the established honor process you will find enough common ground to work together toward healing the rugby program, as well as the relationships that have suffered as a result of these conflicts. Of course, if and when issues arise that do not lend themselves to mediation, you are all are free to pursue the full range of Reed-sanctioned avenues in order to reach resolution.
I want to reiterate that which I said to all of you today - there is a great deal of passion as well as some very serious allegations on both sides of this conflict, and I am convinced that it is only through honest discourse and honorable behavior that we will work our way out of this morass. Please let me know how I can help in the steps that follow.
Since that email was sent, there have been a couple of developments. From what I understand, it seems unlikely that the former coach will work with the team this semester. Nonetheless, Dean Brody has reiterated that the team can resume league play as soon as a certified coach clears them for competition, which seems reasonable to me-- this isn't badminton, after all. And when that glorious day arrives, we will all be cheering from the sidelines.