The U.S. District Court today approved a Consent Decree which resolves the case of Biediger, et al. v. Quinnipiac University, U.S. District Court (D.Conn.) Case No. 3:09-cv-621 (SRU), in which the plaintiffs asserted that the University had not complied with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars gender discrimination in collegiate athletics. Judge Stefan R. Underhill congratulated the parties on reaching the agreement, which he characterized as a “win-win.”
This settlement represents an historic and far-reaching advance for women’s college athletics,” said Sandra Staub, Legal Director of the ACLU of Connecticut. “It offers a clear example to colleges and universities across the nation on providing fair treatment of and equal opportunities for their female athletes.”
The ACLU Foundation of Connecticut, along with cooperating counsel Jonathan Orleans and Alex Hernandez of Pullman & Comley, LLC and Kristen Galles of Equity Legal in Alexandria, Virginia, filed the law suit in 2009 on behalf of five volleyball players and their coach, after Quinnipiac announced its intent to eliminate the women’s volleyball team. The case was certified as a class action in 2010. During four years of litigation, the plaintiffs prevailed in five separate reported decisions in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Court, ruling that Quinnipiac did not comply with Title IX in the operation of its varsity athletic program.
As part of the settlement, Quinnipiac will retain all of its existing women’s teams (including volleyball), will allocate more scholarships to female athletes, and will improve the benefits provided to most of its women’s teams. Quinnipiac has already added varsity women’s golf and rugby and expanded its women’s track program. Other highlights include:
- Quinnipiac will treat two more of its women’s teams as “sports of emphasis,” which will lead to more scholarships, more coaches, and better facilities.
- It will increase its commitment to the new varsity sport of women’s rugby by increasing scholarships, raising the level of competition, adding coaches, and substantially improving its field.
- It will increase its commitment to women’s track by increasing the number of scholarships, coaches, and competitions, as well as building an indoor track & field facility that meets NCAA competition standards.
- It will authorize the maximum number of competitions for all of its teams.
- It will spend at least $5 million improving the facilities used by women’s varsity teams, including locker rooms.
- It will spend about $450,000 annually improving its women’s athletics program by, among other things, increasing coaching salaries, hiring more coaches and academic support staff, and providing greater access to athletic training and conditioning services.
- It will allocate up to $175,000 during each of the next 3 years for additional improvements for women’s sports.
- It will hire a “Referee,” mutually agreed upon by the parties and confirmed by the Court, to monitor its progress.
“This Consent Decree, which was negotiated by counsel for the parties, commits Quinnipiac University to significant improvements in its varsity athletics programs for women, including improved facilities, more scholarships, additional coaches, and other benefits of participating in varsity intercollegiate sports,” said Jonathan Orleans, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys.
“We are very pleased that we were able to achieve such a positive result for the University’s female athletes. We thank the University for coming to the table and reaching this agreement, which we believe will also benefit the University in the long run. Finally, we salute the athletes and coaches who were brave enough to stand up and be heard in this important case.”