Wednesday, June 23, 2010

QU trial: Lopiano testifies

So the Title IX Blog did indeed take a field trip to Connecticut yesterday to watch some of the Quinnipiac University trial. Erin will be posting about what we saw (because she took notes and I just sat there amazed at some of the things people say and the amount of paper involved in these things--binders and binders full of emails and letters and other evidence).
And while we enjoyed being there live and listening to the testimony of three different witnesses we were a little disappointed to find out that we had missed Donna Lopiano's testimony--especially when we found out she was on the stand for six hours!
The New Haven Register covered the story (and has actually been the only coverage I have seen of Lopiano's testimony thus far*). Lopiano covered a lot of ground including addressing the suspect roster management that some QU coaches/administrators engaged in as well as one of the most interesting aspects of this case: whether cheerleading is a sport--even when the word "competitive" appears in front of the historically sideline, supporting role activity. Lopiano does not believe that cheerleading, in its current manifestation, is a sport:
"The NCAA does not classify competitive cheerleading as an emerging sport. It’s clear the NCAA does not support it. It doesn’t fulfill the criteria set forth by the Office of Civil Rights. I do not believe any school can count it as a sport. It hasn’t evolved enough. In the future it could, but not as it exists today. It’s not a sport. It’s not even close.”
[Jeff Webb's testimony from yesterday elaborates (a lot!) on this assertion.]
She also testified that QU would have to keep both competitive cheer, which will have a roster of 36 as well as the volleyball team in order to remain compliant with prong one (which is the only option for QU right now).
Lopiano is an assertive woman. I've seen her speak. She has a presence about her. And apparently she didn't mince words (she was testifying for the plaintiffs, by the way) and I guess the defense (and I am not sure which lawyer questioned her though I would be interested to know whether it was the defense team's one male lawyer or one of the women) kind of got into it with Lopiano. So much so that Judge Stephan Underhill had to warn both parties about getting into "one-on-one" arguments.
No video allowed inside the courtroom so it's not as if this one is showing up on You Tube any time soon. But I would be really interested in seeing the transcripts of Lopiano's testimony since I can't get a whole lot more from the limited coverage of it.

* But I have already heard/seen about cheerleading expert Jeff Webb's testimony from three different media outlets all before 8am! Again, Erin will be posting about this aspect of the trial.