Thursday, April 19, 2007

EIA to Sue OU; New Chapter in Bringing Back OHIO Track

Equity in Athletics (EIA) announced today that it plans to sue OU over the athletic cuts. But the suit will be much more significant than just our sport teams. If successful, the suit will require universities, the NCAA, and the U.S. Department of Education from enforcing the illegitimate "three-prong" test of Title IX.

If this suit is successful, universities will feel much less pressured to cut men's Olympic sports than they currently are. Moreover, already cut teams, (like OU Men's Track) could be reinstated if funding is not a barrier.

This suit could be historic and I am absolutely excited about it.


Here's an article on it from today's Athens News:

National group threatens lawsuit over OU sport cuts
Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Equity in Athletics, Inc. (EIA) announced yesterday afternoon that its Great Lakes Chapter has formally asked Ohio University to postpone its plans to eliminate four varsity sports. The group threatened to file suit against OU if the university doesn't comply with its demand.

EIA cited an April 17 letter that it sent to OU that refers to a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education in the U.S. District Court for Western Virginia "and its Great Lakes Chapter's intent to file a similar lawsuit over the OU cuts."

Earlier this year, OU announced that it was cutting its men's indoor and outdoor track teams, men's swimming and diving team, and women's lacrosse team. University officials said the cuts were both a money-saving move and a way to comply with federal Title IX gender-equity guidelines.

The decision provoked strong criticism among affected student-athletes and their parents, as well as supporters on campus.

In the news release issued yesterday afternoon, EIA President John Licata stated, "Sadly, schools across the country are making the same misguided, unnecessary and illegal decisions to cut men's teams and small-roster women's teams based on the wrong test for compliance with Title IX."

In both Virginia and Ohio, according to the release, EIA argues "that the 1975 Title IX regulations create an equal-opportunity standard, based on interest, with schools having the obligation to assess the interest of both genders. In a series of actions in 1979, 1996, 2003 and 2005, however, the federal government has created a rival standard of equal participation, based on enrollment."

EIA argues in the release that the post-1975 actions were both procedurally and substantively illegal. Therefore, according to the group, "Under EIA's interpretation of the Title IX regulations, OU's planned cuts are illegal," while the university's current alignment of teams complies with the law.

EIA's letter maintains that OU's sport cuts violate both Title IX and the U.S. Constitution and asks OU to postpone the cuts to allow EIA's litigation to resolve the appropriate standard for schools' athletic compliance in the federal Sixth Circuit.

According to EIA's Web site, the group "is a nonprofit coalition of athletes, coaches, parents, alumni, and fans who want to ensure broad-based and equitable athletic opportunities for all athletes, at all levels of competition."

An article yesterday in the Harrisonburg, Va. Daily News Record described EIA as "a group of 400 student athletes, coaches, parents and fans from across the United States, half of whom are affiliated with JMU (John Marshall University in Virginia).

The story is about EIA adding JMU to the lawsuit it filed last month against the U.S. Department of Education.

The NEWS received the news release at deadline yesterday, and a spokesman for OU Intercollegiate Athletics said that the department was unprepared to comment on such short notice.

Click here is another article on this from USA TODAY, but on EIA's efforts with James Madison University.

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