Monday, March 31, 2008

More Coverage of Sexual Harassment in College Sports

Athletic Business, a trade journal for the sports and recreation industry, examines sexual harassment in college sports in this month's issue. The article suggests that Title IX is increasingly becoming the vehicle not only for equal opportunity claims, but sexual harassment claims as well. It mentions as examples a number of cases we follow on the blog -- including the recently-settled lawsuit involving harassment by UNC women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance, the charges against FGCU volleyball coach Jaye Flood, and all of the Fresno State cases -- as well as one case we didn't know about -- a lawsuit against Hofstra in which a female student manager for the football team alleges that she was harassed by the players and fired when she complained (for more on that case, see this archived coverage by the local TV news).

The article includes quotes from Title IX expert Professor Nancy Hogshead-Makar and attorney Robert Clayton of Littler Mendelson (FGCU's counsel). Both point out that its easier in the context of athletics for comments that are normal and appropriate ("you really look like you're developing those leg muscles") to devolve into comments that contribute to a hostile environment ("you have great legs"). They advise athletic departments to avoid legal trouble by developing, implementing, and enforcing policies aimed at preventing sexual harassment from occurring and responding effectively and efficiently when harassment occurs.