Report: Student-athletes to sue William & Mary after cutting women's teams originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Female athletes from William & Mary's women's gymnastics, volleyball and swimming programs are planning to sue the school in a class-action lawsuit, according to a report from the Virginian-Pilot.
Those three programs, in addition to men's gymnastics, swimming, indoor and outdoor track and field, are set to be discontinued following the end of the 2020-21 academic year, as was announced in early September. Financial constraints due to the coronavirus pandemic were cited as the primary reason.
The student-athletes pursuing the lawsuit informed the college of their intent via a letter to the William & Mary president. The students are represented by Arthur H. Bailey of a California-based law firm, Bailey Glasser LLP. In the letter, the plaintiffs are justifying civil action based on conditions set forth by Title IX.
The lawsuit against the college would be for “depriving women athletes and potential athletes of equal opportunities, financial aid and treatment in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972,” as stated in the Virginian-Pilot's report.
While the report did not state where discrimination based on sex occurred, William & Mary is in a unique situation based on the enrollment of its students. The Tribe's student-body makeup has a gender ratio of 58% female, 42% male, according to US News. It is one of the larger female-to-male gaps at a public institution throughout the country.
In part of Title IX legislation, one area where a lawsuit may be applicable is through the proportionality test. The ratio of student-athletes on scholarship must be at or similar to the school's enrollment.
This prong of proportionality was used for the justification to threaten another lawsuit by the same attorney against the school in 1991. Then, WIlliam & Mary was planning to eliminate its women's basketball program. Bailey's threat of legal action prompted the school to reinstate the program.