Last week, the University of California at Davis agreed to pay $1.35 million in a settlement with three women wrestlers after a US Federal Court ruled in August 2011 that the university violated Title IX by not sufficiently expanding intercollegiate athletic opportunities for female students between 1998 and 2005. The court also found that the university ended more than 60 intercollegiate sports opportunities for women without replacing them. The settlement covers the cost of the court fees for the eight year duration of the case, but does not include money to the plaintiffs since the court ruled the women were not entitled to damages.
The wrestlers, Arezou Mansourian, Christine Ng, and Lauren Mancusco filed suit in 2003 after UC Davis eliminated women’s opportunities in wrestling and other women’s sports. When an official at UC Davis decided to limit the number of students allowed on the wrestling team, players were required to try out for a spot. The plaintiffs did not make the cut, which required each wrestler to wrestle-off with opponents of a similar size.
Title IX expert, Kristen Galles from Equity Legal points out that the “The Ninth Circuit opinion emphasized that schools must have both a history and continuing practice of expanding opportunities for women. They cannot just wait until someone files a legal complaint. Schools have affirmative, independent obligations to expand opportunities when women are underrepresented in sports.”
“While we were proud to stand up with these plaintiffs for what’s right and fair, we look forward to the day when it doesn’t take a lawsuit to enforce Title IX,” said Linda D. Hallman, American Association for University Women (AAUW) Executive Director.
The Feminist Majority Foundation is currently working to rescind the 2006 Bush-era Title IX regulations that make it significantly easier to allow single-sex classrooms in public schools.
Associated Press 2/17/12; AAUW 2/16/12; LA Times 2/16/12; Equal Rights Advocates 2/16/12 Press Release