In a 34-page lawsuit filed on Friday on behalf of two female athletes, Eastern Michigan University is accused of violating Title IX by choosing to eliminate four sports from its athletics program.
According to The Detroit News, the lawsuit claims that the school’s decision to cut the four sports (men’s wrestling, men’s swimming and diving, women’s softball and women’s tennis) was made behind closed doors, and without “any effective opportunity to contest” it.
The school has taken significant heat over the cuts, not just in the form of legal action, though this is the second lawsuit related to the decision. Many believe that football, the largest drain on the athletics budget, should have been on the chopping block. But athletic director Scott Wetherbee claims that dropping football, or dropping out of the Mid-America Conference, would cause more harm than good.
For its part, the university claimed in a statement that it now fields more sports programs for women (10) than for men (seven). It also said that more male student-athletes (58) than female student-athletes (25) were affected by the cuts. The school has promised to honor the scholarships of any student-athletes whose sports were cut should they decide to remain at EMU, and would likewise work to find other athletic opportunities for those who wish to continue their sports careers at another institution.
However, the student-athletes in this case face unique challenges. One is from the Czech Republic and would need to obtain a new visa to pursue tennis at a different school, while the other says her major is not offered by the other schools that are interested in her softball talent.
The previous lawsuit was filed in May, by longtime boosters for the wrestling program. That suit claimed that the cuts violated Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.