AMHERST, Ma. – Brian Hamm, the 2011 NESCAC Coach of the Year and preeminent head coach of the men’s baseball program since 2008, has been named Amherst College’s new Title IX Coordinator according to an official press release. Suzanne Coffey will step down from the position effective immediately, but will retain her position as Athletic Director of the College.
“Brian has been practically groomed for the position,” said Ms. Coffey. ”He understands sexual harassment and sex discrimination as well as anyone.”
Mr. Hamm is a widely recognized campus persona, known for spending an inordinate amount of time in the gym and in the Front Room of Valentine Dining Hall, where he has studied first-hand the importance of physical exercise and respect for the maintenance of female bodies. “Women should be allowed to play sports,” said Hamm. “In fact, we should encourage it. I tell my wife to go outside and run all the time.”
Ms. Coffey had been criticized for concurrently holding the position of Athletic Director and Title IX Coordinator, most memorably in a February Amherst Student editorial written by Christopher Friend ’14.
“Chris brought to our attention the dangers of having a Title IX Coordinator – a critical liaison to victims of sexual assault – who also has an incentive to protect the image of varsity athletics,” said Caroline “Biddy” Martin in the press release. “Brian is a strong, independent voice for women. He appreciates them so much.”
Mr. Hamm, who spent seven years in the NESCAC as an assistant coach after a four-year playing career at Middlebury College, where he was a two-sport standout athlete, said that he is very supportive of the landmark 1972 amendment, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.
“Women face many issues in college, the most damning of which are a lack of resources, attention, and sex. I want to fix that,” said Hamm. ”I don’t like it when they sweat, though.”
Not everyone appears convinced that Mr. Hamm is prepared to take on the position that Ms. Coffey has held with distinction since 2006. Detractors, such as Sarah McMahon ’15, note that Mr. Hamm has not completed any training on issues pertaining to sexual assault, sex discrimination, or women’s issues more broadly. McMahon also expressed concern that Mr. Hamm may not understand the complexities of the Title IX law, as he continues to refer to the law as “Title 1 X.”
“I get why Coffey shouldn’t hold the position, but there has to be a better option,” said McMahon. “What about someone in Facilities?”