Friday, April 26, 2013

Settlement Ends Ongoing Title IX Litigation Against Quinnipiac

A settlement announced today will, pending court approval, end the litigation against Quinnipiac University that's been ongoing since 2006, when the university announced plans to terminate its women's volleyball team.  Under the terms of the settlement, Quinnipiac will not to terminate women's volleyball for the three-year term of the agreement.   It further agrees that if it terminates any other women's team during that time, it will replace that team with an NCAA-championship sport.  This provision of the agreement reflects the influence of decisions of the federal district court (see here and here) which had refused to count towards Title IX proportionality two sports -- competitive cheer and rugby -- that had not yet attained NCAA championship status.  Quinnipiac also agrees that it will not create additional men's teams without also simultaneously adding women's teams while the agreement is in effect. 

Additionally, Quinnipiac agreed to numerous provisions to enhance its outdoor track team, ensuring that despite overlapping participation by members of the cross-country team, the sport is truly a separate and distinct sport rather than merely a glorified off-season for distance runners.  Quinnipiac will secure access to an off-campus facility for the purpose of training and hosting an outdoor track meet, it will devote scholarship dollars to track athletes who do not specialize in distance, and will seek to expand the number of events in which Quinnipiac track and field athletes compete.  Quinnipiac will also add resources to women's rugby by improving their playing facilities, opportunities for NCAA-level competition and increasing scholarship dollars devoted to that sport.

In general, the agreement ensures that Quinnipiac's women's sports teams will award at least 50% of the scholarships authorized by the NCAA, and that some women's teams -- field hockey and one other designated a "tier one" team -- will receive the full number of scholarships authorized by the NCAA.  Women's volleyball will receive two additional scholarships over the next two years.   And Quinnipiac will devote $5 million to facilities for its women's teams, as well as additional hundreds of thousands of dollars for other upgrades to their uniforms, equipment, supplies, and the compensation of women's coaches.

Earlier today, the Women's Sports Foundation posted a summary of the settlement terms, along with a list of the all of the positive Title IX precedent to emerge from this litigation. Summing it up rather well, the Foundation also expressed gratitude for the volleyball plaintiffs and their coach, lawyers and experts for enduring many years of litigation to eventually "obtain broad relief for all Quinnipiac University athletes" and establishing "a powerful precedent for all future female athletes."