A federal judge has denied the injunction that would temporarily prevent Michigan State University from cutting its women’s swimming and diving program.
On Friday, Judge Hala Y. Jarbou of the U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan Southern Division issued a 23-page ruling dismissing the lawsuit filed by 11 female members of the school’s swimming and diving team, stating that the school is “best positioned to steward its financial resources for the benefit of the institution and its students.”
Judge Jarabou based the ruling upon the idea that forcing Michigan State to retain the program would result in them committing significant funds to the program. In addition, Judge Jarabou declared that there was no significant Title IX violation that would warrant a reinstatement of the women’s program.
The affected student-athletes are currently working with attorney Jill Zwagerman in order to file an appeal in regards to the ruling. Zwagerman commented on the situation on the athletes’ behalf, “We are very disappointed in the Court’s ruling and believe it to be wrong.”
In October, Michigan State, an NCAA Division 1 institution, announced that it would be cutting its men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs following the 2020-2021 season due to a “budget crisis.” The school joined a collection of division 1 programs cutting their teams amid the coronavirus pandemic, including UCONN and Iowa. However, several of those schools, like William and Mary and Dartmouth, have been able to save their programs after Title IX lawsuits. The women’s swimming and diving program at Iowa, specifically, was only reinstated after the courts issued an injunction preventing the school from cutting it.
In January, 11 members of the women’s swimming and diving team filed a lawsuit against the MSU Board of Trustees, MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., and MSU Athletic Director Bill Beekman. The athletes involved in the case include Sophia Balow, Ava Boutrous, Julia Coffman, Kylie Goit, Emma Inch, Sheridan Phalen, Madeline Reilly, Olivia Starzomski, Sarah Zofchak, Taylor Arnold, and Elise Turke. According to court documents, the team’s leading argument in the case was:
“To stop Defendants from discriminating against them and all others similarly situated now and in the future. They seek injunctive relief to prevent Defendants from eliminating the women’s swimming and diving programs at the end of the 2020–2021 academic year and to require Defendants to add women’s varsity athletic opportunities until Defendants offer equal opportunity to participate in varsity athletics free from discrimination.”