Quinnipiac University has lost its appeal of a federal injunction finding the university failed to provide equal opportunities for female student athletes as it does males.
In its ruling, the Federal Court ruled that cheerleading is not a varsity sport, since the crux of Quinnipiac's argument was that it afforded its female students the opportunity to participate in its varsity cheerleading team, which the court rejected as fulfilling Title IX requirements.
The university argued that the court failed to take into account 11 track and field team positions filled by injured students, and the 30 members of the school's varity cheerleading squad.
"We identify no merit in these arguments and we affirm the challenged injunction substantially for the reasons stated by the district court in its comprehensive and well reasoned opinion," the decision states.
"The University naturally is disappointed that the court did not rule as it had hoped," said Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs. "Quinnipiac will continue to enhance opportunities for our female student-athletes, which include volleyball, acrobatics and tumbling, basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, softball, tennis and indoor and outdoor track and field."
The suit originated in 2009 after Quinnipiac eliminated women's volleyball and implemented competitive cheerleading. The volleyball coach and five team members filed suit, claiming Title IX violations. In June 2010 the court found in their favor, ruling that the cheerleading option cannot replace the volleyball team as a Title IX option.
The ruling has implications for school's Title IX compliance nationwide in terms of varsity cheerleading.
“We expect the Second Circuit’s decision to finally persuade Quinnipiac and any other university in violation of Title IX to stop fighting gender equity and start providing meaningful and equal athletic opportunities for women,” said Sandra Staub, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.