Quinnipiac Volleyball Players Win Title IX Suit
BRIDGEPORT, Conn.-- A federal judge found Quinnipiac University violated Title IX by failing to provide equal athletic opportunities for its female athletes when it attempted to rid itself of a women's volleyball team and replace it with competitive cheerleading.
U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill ordered the school to file a plan within the next 60 days detailing how it intends to meet Title IX compliance.
"The compliance plan shall provide for the continuation of the women's volleyball team during the 2010-1 season," the judge wrote in his 95-page decision released early Wednesday afternoon. "Specifically I hold that the University's competitive cheerleading team does not qualify as a varsity sport for the purposes of Title IX and, therefore, its members may not be counted as athletic participants under the statute."
The ruling comes as a result of a trial conducted before the judge without a jury last month.
Underhill widened the case in May by making the case a class action suit allowing "all present, prospective and future female students at Quinnipiac" harmed by and want to end sex discrimination in the allocation of athletic opportunities, financial assistance or benefits provided to varsity athletes, to join the case.
This broadened the case beyond the original filing brought by members of the women's volleyball team who claimed their program was being eliminated illegally while benefits were being funneled to certain male sports.
The school claimed the volleyball program was being eliminated because of fiscal issues and budgetary cutbacks. They claimed they were offering competitive cheerleading as a replacement.
After three days of hearings, Underhill granted a preliminary injunction barring the school not only from eliminating women's volleyball but also from imposing additional cutbacks in female sports. He found the school failed to offer female student athletes opportunities in proportion to the percentage of women enrolled at the school. In 2009-10 nearly 62 percent of Quinnipiac's 5,686 students were women.