You'll recall from prior posts that the University of Cincinnati cut its rowing team last November, a decision it maintains was not related to fact that the team had filed an administrative complaint with OCR alleging that the university's failure to provide the team with proper equipment violated Title IX.
The team then sued the university in federal court, claiming that the cut violates Title IX as well. Last week, the team filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, which would put on hold the University's decision to discontinue the team.
In deciding whether to grant the TRO, the judge will consider among other factors the likelihood that the team will succeed on the merits of its case against the University. In other words, the court's decision on the TRO might preview whether it thinks cutting rowing violates Title IX. Before its decision to cut rowing, Cincinnati had proportionality points to spare: It has a student body population that is 47.5% female and a student athlete population that was 49% female. Cincinnati may have cut rowing, but it is adding lacrosse, so the percentage of female athletes drops slightly* to 46.6%, still within 1 percentage point of proportionality.
Courts agree that cutting viable women's teams violates Title IX when the school in question is attempting compliance under prong three (satisfying interests and abilities) not prong one (proportionality). But Cincinnati appears to comply with prong one even with the cuts. Thus, it's not obvious from the numbers that the rowers have a viable case. We will see if the court agrees.
* I checked a couple of other Division I women's lacrosse teams in the midwest and they seem to have around 28 players. Cincy had 54 rowers, so the net loss of female athletes was 26.