Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oregon Wrestlers File Suit

On behalf of the disappointed wrestlers at the University of Oregon, Equity in Athletics has sued the University of Oregon over its decision to cut wrestling when it added baseball last year.

According to an EIA press release and SaveOregonWrestling.com, the state court complaint alleges that the University's decision to cut wrestling was procedurally flawed and that substantively, it violates the equal protection clause of Oregon's constitution as well as the state's antidiscrimination law, Section 659.850. University officials have acknowledged that Title IX did not require them to cut wrestling when they added baseball, and that they selected wrestling for elimination based on other criteria, including lack of a facility, lack of competition, and absence of fan support. EIA argues that the University should have applied this same criteria to both men’s and women’s teams in deciding what sports to cut, pointing out that women's lacrosse and competitive cheerleading also lack competition and support.

On the other hand, since women are already underrepresented in Oregon's athletic opportunities, cutting women's team would have a more discriminatory impact than cutting a men's team. It certainly would violate Title IX for the school to cut a viable women's team in light of the existing gender disparity in opportunities. For this reason, I'm not sure that EIA's argument that Oregon should have cut a women's team instead will carry much weight.