EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been modified to include a statement from Brown University saying that “Brown disagreed with all claims and settled the matter with no finding of liability.”

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/AP) — A federal judge approved an order Tuesday that requires Brown University to pay more than $1 million to cover attorneys’ fees and other expenses related to a legal case brought by several student-athletes who challenged the Ivy League school’s plan to drop several women’s varsity sports.

The women said the plan to reduce the varsity sports to club status in 2020 violated a consent decree that dated to 1998 and stemmed from a landmark Title IX case. In that case, students challenged the school’s decision to eliminate women’s gymnastics and volleyball.

Title IX is the federal law requiring equal opportunities for women.

The order includes $1.135 million for the attorneys’ fees and $40,000 for litigation expenses.

“This order should send a message to schools nationwide,” Arthur Bryant, who represented the women, said in a statement. “Title IX is the law. It prohibits sex discrimination. If schools violate Title IX, they will pay. If schools violate Title IX, refuse to admit it, and fight in the courts, they will pay more.”

In the settlement of the 2020 dispute, Brown agreed to reinstate its women’s varsity equestrian and fencing teams.

“Countless women locally and nationally have benefitted from the efforts of the women at Brown who have championed this case over three decades through to its current conclusion,” said Lynette Labinger, the cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Rhode Island. “We hope that this substantial award … will send a message to all colleges and universities in Rhode Island and elsewhere to carefully examine their athletic programs.”

Under Title XI, Brown can’t add any men’s teams without also adding a women’s team until at least August 31, 2024.

12 News received the following statement from Brown University:

“The comments from the plaintiffs’ attorney regarding today’s order are blatantly misleading. The order to pay attorneys’ fees does not constitute any court decision regarding the substance of the 2020 legal claims by the plaintiffs in Cohen v. Brown, which were settled in December of that year. The group of attorneys who filed the 2020 claims asserted that Brown breached a 1998 joint agreement that established requirements for equity in opportunities for women and men student athletes. Brown disagreed with all claims and settled the matter with no finding of liability, agreeing to cover attorneys’ fees to avoid the time and expense of further litigation. The settlement set a 2024 end date to the Cohen joint agreement, enabled Brown to move forward with key provisions of a plan to strengthen athletics and returned two teams to varsity status.”

“The court’s decision today marked a final step, as the judge approved the monetary terms for attorneys’ fees jointly agreed to by Brown and the plaintiffs. Despite the misleading public statements issued by the plaintiffs’ attorneys following the approval of those terms, Brown has at no time since the original decision in Cohen v. Brown more than 25 years ago been found in violation of Title IX. Instead, Brown has remained steadfastly committed to providing equal athletic opportunities for women and men. We continue now to build on Brown’s track record of leadership in upholding Title IX, ensuring excellent athletics opportunities for women and men, and fielding a roster of Brown Athletics varsity teams that are among the most competitive among our peers.”