The origins of the Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative date back to the 2018-19 academic year, when consultants with expertise in Division I athletics conducted an external review of Brown Athletics. They found that the high number of varsity sports at Brown hindered competitiveness.
In January 2020, University President Christina Paxson appointed a Committee on Excellence in Athletics focused on the goals of increasing the competitiveness of varsity teams, providing equal opportunities to participate in varsity athletics for women and men, and enhancing club sports. The committee was advisory to the president (rather than a decision-making body), charged with making recommendations. The committee conducted a thorough review of the existing strengths of each team; current roster sizes; the quality of facilities available for practice and competition; and the potential of the sport to generate community engagement and enhance school spirit.
To ensure that committee members could fulfill their charge without external influence, the composition of the committee was not announced until the conclusion of its work.