A college in Minnesota is having difficulty on the backend of a Title IX lawsuit over its sports teams, with plaintiffs now claiming that it violated a court order to maintain the women's programs that it had wanted to cut. The situation is a classic example of how demanding Title IX claimants can be, and how they can prevent colleges from making important budgeting decisions.
St. Cloud Accused of Violating Injunction Over Women's Sports Teams
Like many colleges facing budget shortfalls, Minnesota's St. Cloud State University (SCSU) decided to cut some failing sports teams back in 2016. The school singled out six teams to cut, including the women's tennis and Nordic ski teams.
Several women athletes from each team sued the school for cutting their program, arguing that it was gender discrimination.
The judge hearing the case issued a permanent injunction against the school, forbidding it from following through on the cuts.
Now, the complainants in the case are filing a civil contempt of court motion, arguing that the school has violated the injunction by letting the teams falter. According to the complainants' motion, the tennis and Nordic ski teams are being “decimated” for lack of recruiting and facility space.
The Unreasonable Demands Made by Title IX Complainants
The demands being made by the complainants in this case are typical of many Title IX allegations, especially those that involve student programs or sports teams: They are made with zero understanding of the legitimate and necessarily binding budget concerns of the school.
Assuming that SCSU did not choose to cut the women's tennis and Nordic skiing teams out of aggressive animosity for women and that there was a legitimate financial reason for cutting these particular programs – assumptions that have not been challenged by the complainants in the case – these are likely the budget cuts that would hurt the fewest students and help the school's bottom line, the most. Demanding that SCSU not only keep the teams that hurt the school's budget the most, but double down on their funding, recruiting, and facility space is simply unreasonable.
AAUW: Do the Math
The case has attracted the attention of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), an advocacy organization for women in college.
In a press release about the case, the AAUW makes a hyper-simplistic conclusion about SCSU's conduct: St. Cloud State had claimed that exactly 50% of its enrollment in 2014-15 were women. Therefore, according to the AAUW, exactly half of their sporting opportunities should be for women, too.
But that conclusion assumes that women participate in sports as often as men do. That's simply not the case.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, no fewer than 4.53 million boys participated in high school sports during the 2018-19 school year, compared to 3.40 million girls.
Rather than demanding that all colleges reserve sporting opportunities for all women, why not expect them to provide one for the 43% of women who actually compete.