One of the lawsuits claims that cutting some women’s sports would be a violation of federal Title IX protections.
Stanford athletes have filed two separate lawsuits in a last-minute bid to save 11 sports programs that the university is expecting to shutter by the end of this academic year.
One of the lawsuits claims that Stanford is in breach of contract, since the university did not disclose to its athletic recruits that it was planned to drop the sports they had signed up for. Furthermore, the group of eight athletes charged that Stanford had been planning to cancel their programs for years.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs say that Stanford and its sports department deceived student athletes by concealing “its secret plan to eliminate varsity teams from the students and their families,” in order to “fraudulently induce the students to choose to attend, and remain, at Stanford, rather than pursue their dreams to play at the varsity level at another institution.”
The programs being cut, says ESPN, are: men’s fencing, women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, coed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball, and wrestling.
Attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who is representing the student athletes, said Stanford’s decision to conceal its plans could cost his clients their athletic futures.
“Stanford’s misrepresentations to these students and their families is in violation of California law and threatens to cause them lasting irreparable harm,” Kessler said earlier this week. “The students are at the top of their game, and will lose the irreplaceable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fulfill their dreams to compete at the varsity level if Stanford is not stopped from eliminating these teams. Stanford has to live up to the relationship of trust it created with these athletes and we are seeking an injunction to prevent this injustice.”
The second lawsuit, notes The New York Times, was filed on behalf of five women and argues that dropping women’s sports violates federal Title IX protections against gender discrimination.
“Their plan to cut these teams will widen the gender gap even further,” attorney Rebecca Peterson-Fischer said in a statement. “Stanford cannot go forward with these planned cuts without further violating Title IX.”
ESPN notes that the lawsuit have no connection with a “high-profile group of Stanford alumni” who have been trying to raise money in order to independently fund some of the soon-to-be-canceled sports.
That group, called 36 Sports Strong, has met with university leadership and suggested creating individual endowments for each sport.