EAST LANSING, Mich. — Eleven former female swimmers from Michigan State University’s swim and dive team filed a Title IX lawsuit against the university after the program was cut in October 2020. A U.S. district judge ruled Tuesday that the decision was in violation of Title IX, but the university is not required to reinstate the team.
“The Court initially denied their request. After an appeal and remand for reconsideration, the Court will grant their motion in part,” Judge Jarbou wrote in her opinion.
Judge Jarbou also said that being in violation of Title IX does not mean that MSU has to reinstate the program and that there was almost no evidence that the university intentionally violated Title IX.
“MSU’s actions do not suggest such an unwillingness or inability. Instead, they suggest that it may have relied on certain metrics to determine compliance (e.g., the average size of a women’s team) that some courts have used and that the Court of Appeals has only recently rejected. Thus, an injunction requiring reinstatement of a particular team is less “useful” here,” Judge Jarbou wrote.
In response to the plaintiffs' request to reinstate the team this fall, while the lawsuit goes through the court, the judge wrote in the opinion there would be too many “logistic hurdles.”
Jarbou listed off the many things MSU would have to do to get the team back in the water by October.
“Recruiting team members, potentially hiring coaching staff and scheduling practices and competitions with other schools before the start of the season. Some of those hurdles may prove to be difficult or impossible to overcome in so short a time period, adding to MSU’s expense,” she wrote.
The judge ruled that MSU will have to focus on the general participation gap between its men and women athletes and will be required to submit a Title IX compliance plan within 60 days.
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