University Sued Over Title IX Sports Dicrimination Charges
The University at Albany and the university’s athletic director, Mark Benson, are currently facing a lawsuit over an alleged Title IX violation after cutting the women’s tennis team.
Former Women’s Tennis Coach Gordon Graham, along with four former UAlbany women’s tennis players, are hoping for the reinstatement of the team on campus and the university’s compliance with Title IX requirements.
While the lawsuit was what brought the issue to the light, it’s not the extent of the reaction to alleged discrimination — the Federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigated UAlbany’s athletic division. The University has since entered into an agreement with the OCR stating that they will comply with Title IX standards within the next three years.
In order to meet Title IX requirements, the school would have needed to offer 97 more opportunities for female athletes between 2016 and 2017. This is an increase from the prior year, when the gap was 55 spots.
Title IX is a law that prohibits discrimination against anyone based on sex in any educational institution that receives federal funding.
This is not the first time the university has been sued for athletic violations. In 1994, the university eliminated the men’s tennis team, wrestling team, and both the women’s and men’s swimming teams.
Todd Rutecki, coach of the Albany women’s club crew team, said that this is not a new problem by any means. The team consists of university students but is not affiliated with the university. The women’s crew team was de-recognized by the Student Association back in 2013. UAlbany Athletics was not involved with this because the team was not Division I.
When the team was originally de-recognized, Rutecki recalls his players saying that the administration had not provided a reason for the removal.
Rutecki said that he believes that the inequality between men’s and women’s sports on campus could be solved with the addition of the women’s crew team.
“It’s not uncommon for Division I women’s crew programs to have rosters of 100-plus individuals with many never having rowed before college,” said Rutecki.
As of its first competition this year, the team had a roster of 53 players.
This is a decrease from 2012, when the team opened their season with a 90-player roster. Rutecki said that his crew team already competes against Division I teams and that he believes there is more than enough opportunity for recruiting in the area.
Fiona Dutcher, a sophomore and member of the Albany women’s crew team, said that she is dissatisfied with the current opportunities for female athletes on campus.
“We can and need to do better for the women of UAlbany,” said Dutcher.
Athletic Director Mark Benson said that administration is working to resolve the Title IX complaints.
“The University does not comment on pending litigation,” said Benson. “We are currently working with the Office of Civil Rights to resolve any compliance issues as we are committed to complying fully with the requirements of Title IX.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article said that the university cut the women’s crew team. The current version reflects that the Student Association de-recognized the women’s club crew team in 2013 and this was entirely separate from UAlbany Athletics.