Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Law Review Article Addresses Sexual Harassment in Athletics

The current issue of the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal contains new scholarship by the prolific Title IX expert Diane Heckman, which addresses Title IX sexual harassment cases in the athletic context. Heckman first provides overview about the legal standard for an institution's sexual harassment liability and also explores the unique power dynamic between coaches (particularly, male coaches) and student athletes (particularly, female athletes) that can create sexualized environment rife for harassment. She then profiles all of the cases filed against college and other educational institutions charging liability for harassment committed or facilitated by athletic department employees, . Among others, she examines a number of cases we've blogged about here, including Jennings v. University of North Carolina, Williams v. University of Georgia, and Simpson v. University of Colorado. Noting that these cases (and others) produced settlements that collectively cost public universities millions of dollars, Heckman concludes that the court rulings in these cases "underscore the judiciary's clear intolerance of Title IX sexual harassment on the playing fields and should be a wake up call for all intercollegiate and interscholastic athletic departments to get the athletic houses in order."

Citation: Diane Heckman, Title IX and Sexual Harassment Claims Involving Educational Athletic Department Employees and Student Athletes in the Twenty-First Century, 8 Va. Sports & Entertainment L.J. 223 (2009).