The captain of the university’s women’s volleyball team said that the she and her teammates receive so little support from collegiate athletics officials that they are forced to play in a public park and share years-old equipment.
Women’s volleyball players at the University of Oregon have filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school, claiming that it has failed to uphold its obligations under federal law.
According to USA Today, the complaint alleges that Oregon has failed to meet any of the three tests used to establish Title IX compliance, including:
- Participation proportionate to enrollment
- Expansion of opportunities
- Accommodating existing interest
Attorneys for the student-athletes say that the university is broadly guilty of “depriving women of equal treatment and benefits, equal athletic aid, and equal opportunities to participate in varsity intercollegiate athletics.”
The lawsuit, adds USA Today, was filed several months after The Oregonian released an investigation showing that women’s volleyball players were routinely denied athletic scholarships and, at times, forced to play home games at a local public park.
“Based on the way the beach volleyball team has been treated, female athletes at Oregon do not need much food or water, good or clean clothes or uniforms, scholarships, medical treatment or mental health services, their own facilities, a locker room, proper transportation, or other basic necessities,” said University of Oregon volleyball captain and lead plaintiff Ashley Schroeder. “This week, we could not practice because, sadly and disturbingly, someone died near the public courts we have to use in Amazon park.”
In contrast, men’s sports appear to receive significantly more funding, investment, and attention from the university’s athletics department.
“While the men’s football team members receive brand-new, exclusive, personally-tailored gear, the women’s beach volleyball team members share a limited amount of tattered gear, handed down for years, that often does not fit,” the lawsuit alleges.
“Women are 49% of the student-athletes, but Oregon only spends 25% of its athletics dollars and 15% of its recruiting dollars on them,” said Bailey Glasser LLP, the firm representing the plaintiff players.
Athur Bryant, a well-known Title IX attorney with Bailey Glasser, told USA Today that the University of Oregon appears to have engaged in “blatant” sex-based discrimination, going so far as to say that he was “stunned” by his clients’ stories of unequal treatment.
“The University of Oregon is one of the top schools in the country in terms of intercollegiate athletics and money,” Bryant told USA Today. “They have this reputation for being truly outstanding—and I always believed the reputation.”
“So I was stunned when I read the article, and I was even more stunned when the university’s lawyers were utterly dismissive,” he said. “They didn’t take it seriously, they denied there were any problems—although they didn’t deny the facts—and they refused to take any action to fix it.”
“The University of Oregon,” Bryant said, “made it absolutely essential for these women to file suit.”