Baylor University remains “hunkered down” in defense of a Title IX claim brought by attorneys representing the Baylor University women’s crew team, according to one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs.
Tulsa attorney Ray Yasser told Sports Litigation Alert last week that the case appeared to be headed toward a settlement where the team would be elevated from club to varsity status, before the university began moving in the opposite direction.
Yasser, who also teaches sports law at the University of Tulsa, theorized that the case was moved to the “back-burner,” as officials dealt with more pressing internal issues, and then “time ran out.”
It became apparent, according to Yasser, that the school was moving the other way when it hired a Title IX consultant to assist in the pre-trial phase. Yasser said the two sides held their Rule 26 meeting on June 15 as required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures, fueling the discovery process.
Yasser, who is also assisted on the case by Tulsa attorney Samuel J. Schiller said he was surprised at Baylor’s decision to fight the allegation. “Most universities realize that the best course of action is to get out in front of the problem,” he said.
The case centers on an alleged discussion the plaintiffs had with Baylor AD Ian McCaw earlier this year about elevating the program to varsity status. In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege that the AD said he would look into it.
The latter was a key component of the complaint since that plaintiffs claim that Baylor was told about the inequities, but failed to take appropriate action. Among the plaintiffs specific charges were that there were a lack of boats and oars for the rowing team; an unpaid student coach; and no scholarships, locker room or university-provided uniforms.
Charles Beckenhauer, Associate General Counsel at Baylor University, said that the school had “successfully closed an inquiry with the U.S. Department of Education in 1999, and accordingly, Baylor was indisputably in full compliance as late as the closure of that inquiry.”
Beckenhauer added that since that inquiry was closed “Baylor has monitored the interests and abilities of the Baylor students. Even before the filing of this lawsuit, Baylor has been conscious of its obligations under Title IX and has been striving to maintain compliance.”