Members of the women's volleyball team at Quinnipiac University are in federal court this week, seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the university from cutting the sports program. The case sheds light on methods universities use to comply with Title IX.
The women's volleyball team got the news in March that Quinnipiac was cutting the program along with men's golf and track as a way to balance the school's budget. But some volleyball team members and their coach decided to sue claiming the decision violates Title IX, the 1972 federal law that protects women against gender discrimination in education, including sports.
Quinnipiac University denies the claim. While its cutting the women's volleyball program-the school plans on giving women's cheerleading varsity status. Erin Buzuvis is an Associate Professor at Western New England College School of Law.
"Take away volleyball but add competitive cheerleading and that might restore the necessary balance and bring them into compliance, We haven't yet ever had litigation over the question of whether cheerleading counts as a sport for Title IX purposes."
Buzuvis says for a school to be compliant with Title IX, it must offer athletic opportunities that equal its female student body population.
Quinnipiac University has declined to comment on the lawsuit but in a school newspaper article, President John Lahey says if the school is found to be non-compliant--it would have to cut more men's sports.
Buzuvis says this is one of the challenges of following Title IX requirements.
"And often times those cuts disproportionately fall on those men's programs that aren't the more popular sport."
The women's volleyball team plays in the Northeast Conference. It finished last season with a 5-30 record.