ACLU-CT Seeks Equal Opportunity for Women Athletes at Quinnipiac
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2009
Contact: Patrick Doyle (860) 523-9146 x213; firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Schneider (860) 523-9146 x 219; email@example.com
Players and the coach of the Quinnipiac University (QU) volleyball team filed a lawsuit against QU today, charging that the school has failed to provide female students with equal opportunity to participate in varsity intercollegiate athletics in clear violation of Title IX. The legal complaint submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU-CT), came after QU's historic failure to comply with Title IX was exacerbated by it's recent decision to eliminate women's varsity volleyball.
"Title IX was enacted over 30 years ago and makes clear that denying women equal access to athletics is a violation of their civil rights. One only has to look at the impressive performance of the University Connecticut women's basketball team to appreciate the positive impact of title IX," said Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of the ACLU-CT. "We understand these are tough economic times, but Quinnipiac shouldn't be unfairly balancing their budget on the backs of women who are already being discriminated against."
The complaint asserts that QU has long offered male students proportionately more opportunities than female students to participate in varsity intercollegiate athletics. As reported by QU, female students have only been afforded about half of athletic participation opportunities, despite the fact that women make up a larger percentage of the student body.
On March 27, 2009, the ACLU-CT sent a letter to QU President, John Lahey, requesting a dialog about continuation of the volleyball program. The letter highlighted QU's shortcomings in Title IX compliance, "According to its own EADA [Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act] reports the University historically has had a female enrollment of around 62% but had a female athletic participation rate of only 50%. Given the discrepancies between the University's EADA reports and its team rosters, the actual numbers are likely even more disparate."
The complaint requests the court block QU from cutting the program while the issue is litigated.
Women athletes on the QU volleyball team and incoming students who committed to playing volleyball for QU this fall have had their lives thrown into uncertainty. In committing to QU the new recruits closed the door to other university admissions, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities. Current players must decide whether to stay at QU, hoping the team will survive, and risk not playing volleyball at the collegiate level, or attempt to find a comparable program which meets their academic and athletic needs. Given the late decision by QU their options for playing next fall at another institution are severely limited.
"All Quinnipiac University students would benefit if Quinnipiac stopped discriminating in its athletic program and began offering female students the opportunities required by Title IX," said Jon Orleans cooperating counsel for the ACLU-CT from Pullman & Comley, LLC. Kristen Galles of Equity Legal is also serving as cooperating counsel on the case.
View a copy of the letter to Quinnipiac.
View a copy of the class action complaint
Hear Quinnipiac volleyball player Erin Overdevest explain how players were surprised by the decision and why students are suing.*
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*-.wav files of audio available to radio and television media by request