Defending Opportunities for Female Athletes
It started as a pro bono project expected to last a few months. It turned out to be one of the most significant lawsuits in the history of Title IX. In March 2009, Pullman & Comley attorneys agreed to co-counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Connecticut and Equity Legal of Alexandria, Virginia, representing the members and coach of the Quinnipiac University women’s volleyball team in challenging the University’s decision to cut the program. More than four years later, after our clients had prevailed in five separate reported decisions in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals – winning a preliminary injunction, class certification, a permanent injunction, and an appeal, and defeating a motion to lift the permanent injunction – we were able to announce an historic settlement that upon the court's approval will firmly commit Quinnipiac to expansion of its athletics program for women, additional athletic scholarships for female athletes, and equal treatment of its women’s teams. We also succeeded in preserving the volleyball program.
The case is particularly important because the court, in finding that the University had not provided its female athletes with opportunities and benefits equal to those it offered men, looked not only at the quantity of varsity athletic opportunities for women, but also at the quality of those opportunities. Schools around the country now have a clearer understanding of their obligations under Title IX.