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Settlement Reached in Female Athletes' Class Action

This is a settlement for the Discrimination lawsuit.

Pittsburgh, PA: On December 30th, the parties to a 2006 federal class action lawsuit between female student-athletes and Slippery Rock University announced that they have reached a settlement over gender equity in the University's athletics program. On December 21, 2009, U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose preliminarily approved the proposed amendments to the settlement agreement, and scheduled a hearing on February 16, 2010 for final court approval.

"We're pleased that the University is undertaking significant improvements to the women's varsity athletics program," said Susan Frietsche, senior staff attorney for the Women's Law Project. "These dedicated young women deserve nothing less than full equality."

"The University is committed to being in compliance with Title IX so we are excited to bring closure to this process," Slippery Rock University President Robert Smith said.

The agreement announced today amends a two-year-old settlement agreement and provides for a host of improvements for women's varsity athletics at Slippery Rock, a state university in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. These improvements include:

1.Further improvements to the seating at the softball field.
2.Giving the softball team equal access to the enclosed batting cage at the baseball stadium.
3.Buying different batting helmets for the softball team.
4.Transferring water polo scholarship funds to the women's water polo club team.
5.Upgrading the soccer field.
6.Supplying additional weight equipment for female athletes.
7.Installing nets around the field hockey and lacrosse fields.
8.Opening a new weight room/plyometrics facility for female athletes by February 1, 2010, and ensuring that female athletes have equal access to the other weight rooms.
9.Providing training on Title IX for all student-athletes, athletic department staff, and coaches.
Both parties praised the involvement of U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan, who mediated the dispute with skill and sensitivity.

The plaintiffs' counsel warmly praised the young student-athletes whose legal challenge to their school's athletic program has lasted almost as long as a typical four-year academic career. "These young women are to be commended for never giving up on their dream of equality and for staying true to themselves and to their passion for their sports," said Terry Fromson, Managing Attorney in the Philadelphia office of the Women's Law Project and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. "Without them, these continued improvements in Slippery Rock's athletics program never would have happened. Every woman at Slippery Rock owes them a debt of gratitude."

"It is clearly in the University's interest to provide quality programs and facilities for our women athletes as we continue to develop an optimum educational experience for our students," added President Smith.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs. In the athletic arena, Title IX mandates the provision of athletic opportunities in proportion to the gender balance in the student body, equitable treatment in the availability, quality, and kinds of benefits and opportunities afforded female student athletes, including equipment and supplies, locker rooms and other facilities, coaching, medical and training services, recruitment, travel, publicity and other facets of the athletic program, and scholarships.

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Published on Dec-30-09


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