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November-17-03

Title IX Victory for West Chester University Gymnastics' Team

A federal judge on Thursday ordered West Chester University to reinstate the women's gymnastics team it had cut in April. US District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick issued a preliminary injunction agreeing with the claims made in the lawsuit, filed on behalf of nine members of the gymnastics team by the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ), that the university is in violation of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education.

West Chester University cut the gymnastics team last April as a result of an athletic department budget shortfall of nearly $98,000. The University also cut the men's lacrosse team and planned to create a women's golf team, that they said would make up for the lost opportunity for women in athletics at the university that came with cutting the gymnastics team, according to the Daily Local. Regardless of these claims, the court found that the school failed to meet the three-part test required by Title IX.

The court found that West Chester University failed to meet the first condition of a "substantial proportionality" between the number of female undergraduates and female athletes, because although 61 percent of women make up the student body, women only are offered 45 percent of the athletic opportunities. Surrick also found that as West Chester had not added a women's sport since 1992 and cut a fully functioning women's team, they also failed to show either a "history or continuing practice" of adding women's sports or that they were " fully and effectively accommodating the athletic interests and abilities" of their female students, according to TLPJ. Leslie Brueckner, an attorney with the TLPJ representing the nine women athletes, argued, "If you are going to cut a team, and women are already getting less than their fair share, you can't cut a team for women," according to the Associated Press.

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Media Resources: TLPJ; Philadelphia Inquirer 11/13/03; Daily Local 11/13/03; Associated Press 11/12/03

   

     

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