ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Five female tennis players at St. Cloud State University are suing their school for violating Title IX. The players allege the school treats male and female student athletes differently, a violation of federal law. The students also claim the school’s decision to cut the tennis program, starting next school year, exacerbates the problem.
“The basis of the lawsuit is to create some equity as is required by the federal law, and to get the the women’s tennis team reinstated,” Don Mark, who represents the players and is an attorney at Fafinski, Mark & Johnson, told Fox 9.
St. Cloud State has 116 more male athletes than female athletes, but the ratio of enrolled students is about equal. Lawyers for the players argue the gap has been even greater in previous years.
“In using their own numbers, they’ve been violating this law for many, many years,” Mark said.
The lawsuit seeks to get the women’s tennis program reinstated. The women’s tennis team, along with men’s tennis, was one of six teams St. Cloud State announced it was eliminating to save money. In addition to saving money, the school also said the cuts would make the ratio of male-to-female athletes more equal, although the players’ attorney disputes the math.
A Fox 9 review of public data shows some of the state’s largest public institutions have a higher percentage of male athletes than enrolled male students. The law requires that the “participation opportunities for male and female students are provided in numbers substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments.” Here is a partial list of enrollment versus athlete participation at Minnesota schools:
St. Cloud State University
- Enrolled students: 4,492 men, 4,488 women
- Athletes: 318 men, 202 women
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
- Enrolled students: 13,661 men, 14,282 women
- Athletes: 388 men, 362 women
University of Minnesota - Duluth
- Enrolled students: 4,801 men, 3,936 women
- Athletes: 241 men, 158 women
MSU - Mankato
- Enrolled students: 5,473 men, 5,501 women
- Athletes: 259 men, 223 women
MSU - Moorhead
- Enrolled students: 1,863 men, 2,815 women
- Athletes: 168 men, 155 women
Winona State University
- Enrolled students: 2,777 men, 4,329 women
- Athletes: 186 men, 188 women
“Generally, across the country, this isn’t a new problem. I think this exists in a lot of places with a lot of large universities,” Mark told Fox 9.
St. Cloud State declined to comment due to the lawsuit.
To look up equity numbers of a school, follow this link: http://ope.ed.gov/athletics/GetOneInstitutionData.aspx