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By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Federal judge denies request to reinstate varsity status of men’s rowing team

Hatchet File Photo
GW’s men’s rowing team is one of the few nationwide that has not been reinstated, despite its record-setting finishes last season.

A federal judge denied an emergency motion from the men’s rowing team’s captain Thursday afternoon that would have required the University to reinstate the varsity status of the team.

D.C. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell denied Patrick George’s emergency motion for a temporary restraining order, which would have prohibited GW from cancelling the varsity status of the rowing team, but a broader suit against the University and a request for documents regarding the termination of the team’s varsity status are still pending. The denial is a blow to George’s attempt to retain the team’s varsity standing for the current season, which started with a regatta against Georgetown University Saturday.

George – a fourth-year student and member of the men’s rowing team since 2018 – sued the University in D.C. Superior Court Friday, alleging the University defrauded him, breached its contract and engaged in deceptive trade practices in failing to renew his athletic scholarship for the upcoming academic year. University attorneys moved the case to federal court Monday.

Attorneys for the University filed their opposition to George’s motion before Thursday’s hearing, calling the request an “attempted abuse” of the restraining order process. The memo argues none of George’s charges against the University are “viable” and that there were no grounds for an injunction from the court.

“George has not pled sufficient facts to support any viable legal claim against GW,” the memo states. “Much less that he is likely to succeed on the merits of any of those claims.”

The memo states George failed to prove that GW officials promised to maintain men’s rowing as a varsity sport throughout his athletic eligibility, which fails to meet legal standards for fraud or breach of contract.

“He has pointed to no specific, actionable statement made by anyone connected with his recruiting process that was false at the time it was made,” the memo states. “Instead, he alleges only that some unidentified person at ‘GW falsely represented . . . that the Men’s Rowing Team would remain a varsity sport at GW throughout his collegiate athletic eligibility years.’”

The memo states George’s timing in bringing the lawsuit against the University, nearly two years after the cuts of seven varsity sports were announced, shows that there is no “emergency” for which a temporary restraining order is needed.

“To the extent that George wanted to continue to compete at the varsity level beyond the 2020-2021 season, he could have transferred to another university; he did not,” the memo states. “Instead, George alleges that he made a written formal request that the team’s varsity status be reinstated in August 2021 and did not receive a response. And yet, he waited an additional eight months – until April 2022 – to file this Motion.”

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About the Contributor
Zach Blackburn, Editor in Chief
Zach, a senior majoring in political communication, is the 2023-24 editor in chief of The Hatchet. He previously served as senior news editor and assistant news editor of the Metro beat. He hails from West Columbia, South Carolina.
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