News

Lawsuit Seeking to Overturn Title IX Rules Expanded to Include James Madison U.

June 12, 2007

An advocacy group called Equity in Athletics Inc. sued the U.S. Department of Education in March, and last week it announced it would add James Madison University, its Board of Visitors, its president, and its athletics director to the lawsuit.

The group argues that the department’s regulations that allowed James Madison to comply with federal gender-equity law by eliminating 10 sports teams (seven of them men’s) are “unconstitutional.” The three-part test for compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 — the landmark gender-equity law typically invoked to open up athletics opportunities for women — discriminates against men and should be abolished, the group says.

Equity in Athletics had asked James Madison to postpone the cuts pending the outcome of the lawsuit. University officials declined. So the advocacy group decided to sue them, too.

“We regret that JMU has left us no choice but litigation,” the group’s president, John Licata, said in a written statement.

The amended lawsuit alleges that the cuts violate not only the Constitution’s equal-protection clause but also the Virginia Human Rights Act and other state laws. Similar lawsuits have proved unsuccessful, but gender-equity advocates worry that this case might find a sympathetic court. —Sara Lipka