After Tara Brady, a basketball star at Connecticut’s Sacred Heart University, became pregnant and decided to carry her pregnancy to term – her scholarship was revoked and her coach told her she would be a “distraction” and should leave the school, according to FindLaw.com columnist Joanna Grossman. Under protections outlined by Title IX, the landmark 1973 law that bans discrimination based on gender in educational programs that receive federal funds, what Brady’s coach and university did is against the law.
Last month, Brady became the first pregnant athlete to file suit under Title IX. Her case could prove pivotal during a time when a commission appointed by the Bush administration has suggested several sweeping changes to Title IX enforcement that could effectively eviscerate the gains women and girls have made in athletics.
“Cases like Brady’s, involving pregnant scholarship athletes, tend to be few and far between,” Grossman wrote. “Yet there are scores of girls and women who get pregnant while attending educational institutions governed by Title IX. And many of them encounter problems in trying to seek the rights and accommodations that Title IX requires.”
According to Grossman, Brady’s case is pretty straightforward. Title IX requires that Sacred Heart University give her medically necessary leave and allow her to return to her former status as a member of the basketball team and a scholarship recipient, once her leave is over. Title IX also requires that the school “take no action motivated by hostility, animus or disapproval toward Brady’s pregnancy” and must provide Brady with whatever accommodations they would provide other “temporarily disabled” athletes. In addition, NCAA guidelines state that Brady is entitled to “medical red-shirt status” – meaning that her five-year period of eligibility must be extended by one year for “reasons of pregnancy.”