Two Regular Students Sue University of Kentucky and Others, Alleging Title IX Violations

Oct 25, 2019

Two regular University of Kentucky (UK) students have sued the school, UK president Eli Capilouto and Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart were named in a Title IX Lawsuit, alleging the defendants discriminate against potential female student athletes by systematically refusing to create varsity opportunities for women.
Elizabeth Niblock and Meredith Newman, who are bringing the lawsuit on behalf of themselves and all other current and prospective female students, contend Barnhart needs to add 183 female student athletes to his program in order to be in compliance with Title IX.
The plaintiffs claim they began the process two years ago, when representatives from the field hockey, lacrosse, and triathlon student clubs approached the athletics department about adding varsity sports. Their request allegedly was denied. Next the students solicited help from UK’s Title IX office. This request was also denied, they claimed. The students then went to President Capilouto and were denied again. Finally, they approached the Board of Trustees and once again, they were denied the opportunity to address the Board of Trustees, according to the claim.
UK has not added a sport during the tenure of Barnhart, this despite “a self-study in 2004 in which the committee suggested that UK should plan to expand athletic opportunities for women,” according to a press release published by the plaintiffs’ attorneys.”
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that UK “has systematically denied women’s teams at UK from seeking varsity status. The lawsuit alleges that UK is “in violation of all three prongs of Title IX, including inequitable participation opportunities, scholarships and benefits provided to female student athletes.“
For example, in its filing with the United States Department of Education pursuant to the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1092 during the 2017-2018 academic year, women made up 55 percent of the student population but only comprise 41 percent of the participants in UK varsity sports.
The university countered with a statement, denying the accusations.
“The University of Kentucky fully complies with Title IX and its regulations concerning participation in intercollegiate athletics,” it said. “As a campus community, we care deeply about these issues. With 22 sports, UK has the broadest based athletics program in the Southeastern Conference. Based on our surveys of our students, the current sports offerings fully accommodate the interests and abilities of our undergraduate students.”


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