A federal judge ruled today that Duke University must pay $2 million in damages to Heather Sue Mercer, a football player who was cut from the University’s team because she is a woman. Mercer sued Duke University under Title IX after then-coach Fred Goldsmith dropped her from the team in 1996, arguing that she did not have the necessary skills to play. Mercer, a place-kicker, had been a member of a championship high school team, and kicked 48-yard field goals while at Duke University. She testified that the coach commented, “Why do you insist on playing football? Why not try something like beauty pageants?” Title IX bars institutions who receive federal money from discriminating on the basis of sex, and has helped to improve women’s sports at the college level.