Sport-In-Law Friday Feature: Settlement Reached in UC-Davis Wrestling Title IX Case

By Ashley Foster, an Illinois attorney, Miami (FL) Law graduate, and author

Each Friday, The Legal Blitz features an article from our good friends at Sport-In-Law in an effort to fulfill our promise of providing the best sports law content on the Web.  This week’s feature details the settlement agreement between UC-Davis and female students who were not allowed to compete on the school’s wrestling team.

The University of California Davis and three former female students reached a settlement agreement on a Title IX complaint the students filed in 2003.  The students alleged in their complaint that they were not given an opportunity to compete on a women’s wrestling team at UC Davis and were cut from the men’s team.

U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. ruled on the case in August, dismissing the students’ individual discrimination claims.  However, the court found that between 1998 and 2005, the time period the plaintiffs were enrolled, the university did not show continual expansion of opportunities in athletics for the underrepresented sex.  In that time period, junior varsity women’s water polo and women’s lacrosse teams were eliminated.  As a result, the university failed to meet the burden of proof for prong two of the three-prong test for Title IX compliance.

The court was set to hear the damages phase of the trial this month.  However, the parties reached a settlement agreement where the university agreed to pay $1.35 million to the attorneys of the former students to cover fees and costs of the lengthy litigation.  Although the students’ individual discrimination suits were rejected, their lawyers are calling this a victory for Title IX and female collegiate athletes.

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