A judge has rejected the discrimination claims of three women who had been on the wrestling team at University of California at Davis a decade ago, yet also ruled the school violated Title IX, the law banning gender discrimination in schools, when it failed to supply sufficient athletic opportunities to women during the time the plaintiffs attended the university.
Let’s look at the individual components of this two-part decision, handed down in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Discrimination claims rejected: U.S. District Judge Frank Damrell, Jr., concluded that UC Davis officials did not violate Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination in college sports, or the Constitution’s equal protection clause in their treatment of the three women — Arezou Mansourian, Lauren Mancuso and Christine Wing-Si Ng — who had filed suit after they were cut from the wrestling team in 2001, alleging discrimination.
The judge said the university was not obligated to create a separate wrestling team for women because the team would have had no opportunity for intercollegiate competition, noting there were no all-women’s intercollegiate wrestling teams at four-year California colleges ten years ago.
Damrell also noted that the women were given the opportunity to compete for the men’s team in 2001 but either declined or did not make it on the squad.
“Plaintiffs were not cut from the men’s team because of their sex,” the judge wrote. “Rather, plaintiffs were cut … because, like the other male student-athletes that did not make the roster, they could not compete at the Division I, Pac-10 level in intercollegiate men’s wrestling.”
Title IX violation: Judge Damrell found UC Davis in violation of Title IX for reducing athletic opportunities for all women while the three plaintiffs were enrolled there.
Title IX—passed in 1972—required schools to offer equal athletic opportunities to men and women.
Damrell found opportunities for female athletes at UC Davis showed a pattern of contraction, not expansion. During the 1998-99 school year, the school could claim 424 total female participants in student intercollegiate athletics, while in 2004-05, there were only 363 total.
UC Davis eliminated its wrestling program at the end of the 2009-10 season.
Want to know more? An article in the San Jose Mercury focuses on the “discrimination claims rejected” aspect of the ruling… while a Huffington Post story concentrates on UC Davis’ violation of Title IX. For College Wrestling Examiner articles about UC Davis eliminating wrestling, click here.
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