A Florida court has granted a preliminary injunction requiring the reinstatement of the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) men's rowing program by February 24 2023, and to provide all "benefits commensurate with its status as a varsity-level intercollegiate team" by March 12 2023.
Six members of the team filed suit in late October; read our report at Six Rowers File Title IX Suit Against Florida Tech; See Full Submitted Complaint; the cuts had come in June, a month after the men's and women's teams posted medal-winning efforts to close out the 2022 season; see our report here: Florida Tech (FIT) Cuts Men's and Women's Rowing, Three Other Sports.
The women's program has not been reinstated at this time; the team posted congratulations to the men, noting that they will continue to fight for the reinstatement of women's rowing as a varsity sport.
You can see the full ruling below, but the Conclusion of Judge Carlos Mendoza for the United States District Court Middle District of Florida - Orlando Division reads as follows:
In accordance with the foregoing, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDED as follows:
1. Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 28) is GRANTED.
2. FIT shall:
a. as soon as possible, but no later than February 24, 2023, reinstate the men's rowing team to its varsity intercollegiate status;
b. on or before March 12, 2023, provide the men's rowing team with full funding, staffing, and other benefits commensurate with its status as a varsity-level intercollegiate team.
c. If there are compelling reasons that FIT is unable to comply with the March 12, 2023 deadline despite due diligence, it must notify the Court in writing on or before 5:00 PM on March 3, 2023.
3. FIT is PRELIMINARY ENJOINED
a. from taking any action in furtherance of eliminating the men's rowing team or any men's intercollegiate athletic team at the institution pending a full trial on the merits or until the Court orders otherwise;
b. from retaliating against Plaintiffs in any manner for asserting their legal rights in this case.
4. No bond is required.
DONE and ORDERED in Orlando, Florida on February 17, 2023
Ben Komita, who served as team captain last year and is currently a grad student at FIT with an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic, was one of the plaintiffs.
"Unbelievable day for Florida Tech Rowing!" Komita said today. "After months of hard work, working without lawyers, and training with limited resources, it feels incredible to finally win one. Being in the court room a few weeks ago definitely felt like a turning point and reading Judge Mendoza's ruling today confirmed that it truly was. I am so excited that the legacy of FIT rowing will be here in the past, present, and future.
"Being one of the plaintiffs on this case was a great opportunity and I am grateful to get to play my part in this reinstatement. Huge shoutout to our lawyers Art Schofield and Claire Diallo for working to get this done for every single supporter of FIT rowing. I could not have asked for a better outcome from this and I can't wait to see us racing again in the spring!"
Current club team captain Mason Yaskovic, also a plaintiff, expressed relief and optimism.
"I'm so relieved," Yaskovic said. "Through all my years of rowing, this season has by far and away been the most challenging- on and off the water and in and out of the courtroom. Though this is just one of the first steps in establishing rowing at Florida Tech as a permanent structure, it's a huge win for all of us on the team.
"Having the team back to varsity status at this time of year allows us to train at the level we need to become competitive through the spring- and critically allows us to recruit and establish a structure moving into next season. It is such a relief knowing that we WILL be moving into the 2024 season as a Varsity team, under no threat of sudden destruction."
Friends of FIT Rowing Association President Craig McKay said "The FFRA is extremely pleased with the ruling that will Right the Wrong done to the student athletes. It was unfortunate that this issue had to go to the courts and now that FIT has been ordered to reinstate Men's Varsity rowing, FFRA looks forward to helping rebuild this legacy sport."
Previous coverage posted to row2k: