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Lafayette College will begin a national search for a new Director of Athletics. Eve Atkinson, who has held the position since January 1990, has been informed that her employment will not continue beyond June 30, 2001.

“Lafayette believes the Athletic Department will benefit from new leadership as it strengthens its commitment to competing at the NCCA Division I level and as a member of the Patriot League,” said Lafayette Dean of Students James Krivoski, to whom Atkinson reports. He said a national search for a new athletic director will begin immediately and is expected to take several months.

Effective July 1, 2001, Gary A. Evans, Lafayette Vice President for Development and College Relations, will assume the additional duties of interim athletic director until a new athletic director is named. Bruce E. McCutcheon, associate director of athletics, will oversee day-to-day athletic operations, according to Evans.

The College was informed yesterday that Atkinson has filed an employment complaint against Lafayette in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania over the College’s decision not to continue her employment.

Atkinson is claiming that she is entitled to tenure and that in reaching its decision the College discriminated against her on the basis of sex and/or Title IX compliance issues.

Lafayette Director of Public Information Glenn Airgood said the College will address the allegations made by Atkinson in court and will vigorously defend in that forum its decision not to continue her employment. “The College has both the right and obligation to make decisions it believes are in the best interests of its student athletes, the Athletic Department, and the entire College community,” Airgood said.

“Lafayette will contend in court that it is within its rights to hire a new athletic director, that Atkinson was given proper and ample notice of this decision, and that the College reached this decision because it believes it is time for new leadership in the Athletic Department,” Airgood said. Atkinson was notified in November 1999 that her last day of employment with Lafayette would be June 30, 2001.

“The College will establish in court that Atkinson does not now have tenure, and never has had tenure,” Airgood said

To the extent that Atkinson has contended that the College has discriminated against her on the basis of sex, “the College will vigorously defend itself against these claims and contend that it has a very visible and aggressive policy of zero tolerance of discrimination in any form, including sex discrimination,” Airgood said.

“The College will show that Atkinson’s claim that the decision to seek new leadership for the Athletic Department was related to Title IX, is likewise without merit. The decision regarding Atkinson’s appointment had nothing whatsoever to do with Title IX. Lafayette’s record on Title IX compliance is one of the finest in the nation and the best in the Patriot League,” according to Airgood.

In 1997, Lafayette was listed in USA Today as one of only 7 NCAA Division 1-AA schools to meet the proportionality test, one means of complying with Title IX. In that study, 43 percent of Lafayette’s athletes were female. Lafayette was cited in The Chronicle of Higher Education in May 1999 as one of only 14 NCAA Division I institutions to be in compliance with Title IX scholarship requirements.

Lafayette’s NCAA Division I program fields 23 nationally recognized intercollegiate teams –11 for men, 11 for women and one that is coed — an unusually high level of athletic activity for a college of its size. It ranks among the smallest at the NCAA Division I level (I-AA in football).

In October 1999, Lafayette’s Board of Trustees voted to strengthen the College’s commitment to its Division I program by authorizing fundraising of an additional $7 million to support athletics. Gifts and pledges to the enhancement fund now total more than $6.8 million.

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