Fourteen current and former Guilford College student athletes have settled a Title IX class action complaint against the North Carolina school. Filed in 2017, the suit alleged that Guilford College systematically discriminated against female athletes and coaches of female athletes.
Under the consent decree, Guilford agreed to add varsity sports teams; allocate additional monies to certain women’s sports; develop policies to ensure equitable funding and treatment for both male and female athletes and varsity teams, and create an Equity in Athletics Committee (EAC) to oversee and assist the school in achieving gender equity. The consent decree is unusual in that Guilford College and the plaintiffs have agreed to work together to reach gender equity at the school. Two of the plaintiffs will participate as members of the EAC for the next five years and will assist the Guilford in hosting a conference for women athletes to promote gender equity in athletics.
The current and former Guilford coaches and students alleged that while more than 50 percent of the undergraduate student body is female, Guilford provides male athletes about 20 percent more opportunity to participate in its athletic programming. The suit further alleged that Guilford provides superior benefits and treatment to its male athletes with respect to the provision of equipment and supplies; scheduling of games and practice time; travel and per diem allowance; opportunity to receive coaching and academic tutoring; assignment and compensation of coaches and tutors; provision of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities; provision of medical and training services; provision of housing and dining facilities and services; and publicity.
The complainants alleged that despite the fact that Guilford provides the same number of teams for females as males, it spends significantly less overall for women’s sports than for men’s sports. They allege, for example, that in 2016, the school: (1) spent $41,000.00 to recruit male athletes and $13,613.00 to recruit female athletes; (2) spent $669,772.00 for operating game-day expenses for men’s teams and $213,985.00 for women’s teams; and (3) spent a total of $1,358,127.00 on men’s teams and $630,591.00 on women’s teams.
The law firm that represented the plaintiffs, Duffy Law, LLC in New Haven, CT, noted that “even though Title IX has been the law since 1972, and athletic participation rates have significantly increased since its enactment, girls and women do not yet have equal opportunities in all areas of athletics. Currently, high schools are providing 1.3 million fewer chances for girls to play sports as compared to boys, and girls’ opportunities still have not reached the rates afforded boys when Title IX was passed. Even though more than half of all students at NCAA schools are women, they receive only 44 percent of the athletic participation opportunities, and as of 2012 (40 years after the passage of Title IX) women still had over 60,000 fewer participation opportunities than their male counterparts at NCAA schools. At the typical top-level athletic schools in Division I-FBS (formerly Division I-A), female athletes receive about 28 percent of the total money spent on athletics, 31 percent of the recruiting dollars, and 42 percent of the athletic scholarship dollars.”
Ellen J. Staurowsky, Ed.D., Professor, Sport Management, Drexel University, and a Senior Writer for Hackney Publications, wrote an in-depth piece on the case in Sports Litigation Alert, Volume 15, Issue 2 (February 2, 2018).