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'Productive,' But No Progress To Report In EMU Title IX Case

Oct 23, 2018

Eastern Michigan University's Student Center.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

A status conference was held Tuesday afternoon on a U.S. District Court judge's ruling determining Eastern Michigan University is in violation of Title IX after eliminating two women's sports teams in a money-saving move.

An attorney for one of the student athletes said "no agreement" has been reached between the University and the student athletes who brought the suit but added "both sides are working very hard" to implement the judge's order to reinstate the sports.  The attorney said, however, the Mid-American Conference has no plans to put EMU’s women's tennis and softball teams on the schedule for the upcoming academic year.

Both sides will meet again in another month to see if any progress has been made to meet the judge's order.

Meanwhile, EMU spokesman Geoffrey Larcom issued a statement calling the Tuesday meeting "productive."

Here is the content of that statement:
The attorneys had a productive meeting with the judge today, and we look forward to continuing to work in the weeks leading up to the next status conference on Nov. 27. We continue to look forward to a practical solution that keeps the University in compliance with its responsibilities under federal law and provides the best environment for our students.

Background information from statement issued on September 27

As we have stated previously, the decision to eliminate four sports programs was extremely difficult. We initiated the action to reduce expenses in athletics consistent with strategic reductions across the university. These efforts are part of a comprehensive process to realign our budget to ensure our ability to continue to invest in key priority areas, such as high demand academic programs that meet the needs of today's employers, and to modernize the facilities in which the programs are taught.

It is important to note that previously Eastern had 21 sports, which was more than any other university in the Mid-American Conference(MAC). We do not have the largest budget. In fact, we have one of the smallest. Our new total of 17 sports puts us in the middle of the pack of the MAC and allows us to provide a solid level of support for each of the 17 programs.

We recognize how difficult this decision has been for the 83 student athletes (58 male and 25 female) who were participating in the four canceled sports. We have great respect for all of them, including the two students involved in the lawsuit. Of the 83 students initially affected by the decision, several have graduated and others have moved on to other schools.

Further, all of the student-athletes in the affected sports were offered the opportunity to continue to attend Eastern on their athletic scholarships, assuming they met academic requirements, until they graduate. In many cases, scholarships for those students are equal to the full price of their tuition.

Eastern Michigan University remains committed to an environment of non-discrimination, and works hard to maintain and expand that commitment as evidenced by our non-discrimination statement.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu