Eastern Michigan Ordered to Reinstate Softball, Tennis

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A judge has ordered Eastern Michigan University to reinstate both its softball and tennis programs.

According to The Detroit News, Judge George Steeh ruled Tuesday that Eastern Michigan must hire a softball coach by April 1 for competition next season and must start competition for women’s tennis next season.

The ruling is a victory for two students who sued the school in June, demanding that the decision to eliminate the sports be reversed.

"We are so pleased with the court's order," said Jill Zwagerman, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. "It holds EMU accountable for its violations and doesn't let it sneak out of its obligations to these female student-athletes."

EMU had argued that it would have preferred to put together a lacrosse team, which the school said would be cheaper and would have provided more roster spots for female student-athletes than softball.

"EMU shall carry out the court’s order with diligence to ensure there are no further delays in reinstating the women’s varsity tennis and varsity softball teams," Steeh wrote in his five-page ruling.

Steeh had already issued an injunction back in September and ordered EMU and the students into mediation to resolve the impasse. However, while the two sides managed to reach an agreement to reinstate tennis, EMU refused to budge on reinstating softball. 

Because EMU was unable to get tennis back for this season, Steeh ruled that the school must use the funds that would have been allocated for tennis to help with the program’s recruiting and scholarships. 

"The reinstatement of the tennis and softball teams represents only one step in the direction of the university’s compliance with Title IX," Steeh wrote.

For its part, EMU said it was considering its options in the wake of the ruling.

"We are aware of Judge Steeh's ruling in this matter," EMU said in a statement Tuesday evening. "As we have stated previously, we are determined to meet our Title IX obligations completely and efficiently. We will be studying the ruling and determining next steps in the days ahead."

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