Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Appeals Court Agrees Quinnipiac Violated Title IX: What It Did Wrong

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Appeals Court Agrees Quinnipiac Violated Title IX: What It Did Wrong

Article excerpt

Quinnipiac University violated Title IX by not offering enough varsity sports for women, the appeals court said. The judges rejected the argument that competitive cheerleading counts as a sport.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that Quinnipiac University had engaged in gender discrimination in its sports program, agreeing with a lower court that found the Connecticut school failed to offer adequate athletic opportunities to women.

The three-judge panel for the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals also rejected arguments by university lawyers that competitive cheerleading should be considered a legitimate varsity sport.

The university had argued that the school's athletic rosters were proportionally divided between men's and women's sports.

But a federal judge ruled in 2010 that Quinnipiac had padded its ranks of female athletes by double-counting injured cross country runners as track participants. He also disallowed the school's attempt to claim competitive cheerleading as a varsity sport.

Instead of the 440 athletic positions claimed by the school, U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill counted only 400 and declared Quinnipiac in violation of Title IX, the 40-year-old federal law that requires gender equality in school sports.

Judge Underhill's ruling was important because it suggested that colleges and universities may need to perform increasingly precise calculations to ensure opportunities offered to women in sports are proportional enough to satisfy federal law.

Of the 5,696 students enrolled at Quinnipiac in 2009-2010, roughly 62 percent were women. A strict reading of Title IX would require that women occupy 62 percent of all varsity sports positions offered by the school.

Under the school's calculation, women held 62.27 percent of all varsity spots, including competitive cheerleading and track.

In contrast, Judge Underhill's calculations found that women athletes held only 58. …

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