John Morgan, Quinnipiac University, (203) 582-5359; email@example.com
Sandra Staub, ACLU of Connecticut, (860) 523-9146 or (860) 471-8471; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sally Laroche, Pullman & Comley, (203) 330-2007; email@example.com
HAMDEN, Conn., April 26, 2013: Quinnipiac University has announced a major new commitment to women’s sports at the university, including expansion of women’s athletic opportunities, additional athletic scholarships for female athletes, and improved support of its women’s teams. The announcement comes as part of a settlement in the case of Biediger, et al. v. Quinnipiac University, U.S. District Court (D.Conn.) Case No. 3:09-cv-621 (SRU), in which the plaintiffs asserted that the University had not complied with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars gender discrimination in collegiate athletics. The parties have filed a proposed Consent Decree resolving the case, subject to court approval.
Sandra Staub, Legal Director of the ACLU Foundation of Connecticut, commented: “This litigation advanced the cause of equality for female collegiate athletes across the nation, and the settlement will bring tremendous benefits to female athletes at Quinnipiac University. The parties have worked hard to achieve this agreement.”
The ACLU Foundation of Connecticut, along with cooperating counsel Jonathan Orleans and Alex Hernandez of Pullman & Comley, LLC and Kristen Galles of Equity Legal in Alexandria, Virginia, filed the class action law suit in 2009 after Quinnipiac announced its intent to eliminate the women’s volleyball team. During four years of litigation, the plaintiffs prevailed in five separate reported decisions in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Court, ruling that Quinnipiac was not in compliance with Title IX in the operation of its varsity athletic program.
As part of the settlement, Quinnipiac will retain all of its existing women’s teams (including volleyball), will allocate more scholarships to female athletes, and will improve the benefits provided to most of its women’s teams. Quinnipiac has already added varsity women’s golf and rugby and expanded its women’s track program. Other highlights include:
· Quinnipiac will treat two more of its women’s teams as “sports of emphasis,” which will lead to more scholarships, more coaches, and better facilities.
· It will increase its commitment to the new varsity sport of women’s rugby by increasing scholarships, raising the level of competition, adding coaches, and substantially improving its field.
· It will increase its commitment to women’s track by increasing the number of scholarships, coaches, and competitions, as well as building an indoor track & field facility that meets NCAA competition standards.
· It will authorize the maximum number of competitions for all of its teams.
· It will spend at least $5 million improving the facilities used by women’s varsity teams, including locker rooms.
· It will spend about $450,000 annually improving its women’s athletics program by, among other things, increasing coaching salaries, hiring more coaches and academic support staff, and providing greater access to athletic training and conditioning services.
· It will allocate up to $175,000 during each of the next 3 years for additional improvements for women’s sports.
· It will hire a “Referee,” mutually agreed upon by the parties and confirmed by the Court, to monitor its progress.
Kristen Galles, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, commented, “This was a particularly important case because the courts clarified the meaning of key terms such as ‘substantial proportionality,’ the ‘competition test,’ and ‘varsity sport’ under Title IX.”
“We’re very pleased with the multitude of benefits and increased opportunities this settlement will provide for female athletes at Quinnipiac,” said Jonathan Orleans, another of the plaintiffs’ attorneys. “We look forward to working with the University as it implements the terms of the settlement.”