Members of the East Carolina University women’s swimming and diving and women’s tennis teams are threatening legal action after their sports were cut.
The programs are two of four programs that the school announced it would cut back in May for financial reasons.
Arthur Bryant, a lawyer who represents the members of the swimming and tennis teams, recently sent a letter to ECU interim chancellor Ron Mitchelson stating that eliminating the teams is a “flagrant violation” of Title IX, the federal statute governing gender equity.
Bryant notes that ECU’s student body is 57 percent male, but scholarships are roughly allocated 50-50 between men and women.
“Based on these facts, unless ECU agrees to reinstate the women’s teams or has some plans for compliance with Title IX we do not yet know, we will seek a preliminary injunction immediately preserving the teams,” reads the letter, which was obtained by The News & Observer.
Bryant said that cutting women’s swimming and diving and women’s tennis was a clear violation of Title IX.
The school announced the cuts after an internal analysis found a $10 million deficit within the athletic department which was exacerbated when the football program was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The discontinued programs had lost $2.6 million in the past year.
Athletic director Jon Gilbert said the school worked with a Title IX consultant to ensure ECU remained in compliance even though the university cut three more women’s scholarships than men’s.