Oregon Women Bring Title IX Lawsuit Over Unequal Treatment, Lack of NIL Support

by SwimSwam Contributors 11

December 02nd, 2023 College, News, Pac-12

Courtesy: Robert Dickson

Thirty-two current and former female student-athletes are suing the University of Oregon for Title IX violations in a complaint that was filed today in the U.S. District Court of Oregon. The named plaintiffs bringing the class-action sex discrimination lawsuit include 26 members of Oregon’s women’s beach volleyball team and six club rowers.

The 115-page complaint alleges that the lawsuit is brought against the University of Oregon “for depriving its female student-athletes of equal treatment, equal athletic financial aid, and equal opportunities to participate in varsity athletics in violation of Title IX.”

In the complaint, the plaintiffs cite various discrepancies in treatment between Oregon’s male and female student-athletes. The “most egregious example” alleged by the plaintiffs is the treatment and benefits given to Oregon’s football student-athletes compared to the treatment that all of the female student-athletes receive. Some alleged examples include the football locker rooms, personalized gear and equipment, chartered flights, quantities of food and per diem,  practice and competitive facilities, and nearly-unlimited publicity, which helps the football student-athletes advance their name, image, and likeness (NIL) opportunities. The lawsuit also references a July 2023 report by The Oregonian which exposed the University of Oregon’s discrimination against its female student-athletes.

This class-action complaint is the first major NIL-related Title IX lawsuit since the NCAA has adopted its interim NIL policy. The plaintiffs allege, among other things, that because of the publicity and NIL support that the football student-athletes receive, they have three members listed on On3’s NIL 100 list as the highest NIL recipients in the country. By comparison, the women’s beach volleyball athletes receive “so little publicity and NIL support” that none of them, or any of Oregon’s female student-athletes, can receive anywhere near the NIL compensation as Oregon’s quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. Also implicated in the complaint is Oregon’s NIL collective, Division Street. It is worth noting that the NIL-related allegations are just a portion of the overall complaint and the Title IX lawsuit likely could have and would have been filed regardless.

The plaintiffs allege that the University of Oregon fails to meet any of the three “prongs” set out to comply with Title IX. These prongs are:

  • Participation opportunities for male and female students are provided in number substantially proportional their respective enrollments; or
  • Where the members of one sex have been and are underrepresented among intercollegiate athletes, the school can show a history and continuing practice of program expansion which is demonstrably responsive to the developing interest and abilities of the members of that sex; or
  • Where the members are underrepresented and the school cannot show a continuing practice of program expansion, whether it can be demonstrated that the interests and abilities of the members of that sex have been fully and effectively accommodated by the present program.

The lawsuit seeks certification as a class action, an order that Oregon is discriminating against its current female varsity student-athletes, a permanent injunction barring Oregon from discriminating against its female student-athletes on the basis of their sex as well as damages and attorney fees.

The lawyers representing the plaintiffs are Jennifer Middleton and Arthur Bryant. Notably, Bryant helped the Eastern Carolina women’s swimming and diving athletes successfully fight for reinstatement after the university cut the program in May 2020.

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3 months ago

How can they tell which are men’s and which are women’s sports?

Summer Love
3 months ago

I mean, if you don’t bring money….

Reply to  Summer Love
3 months ago

Title IX says otherwise.

3 months ago

Burn it ALL down!

The Original Tim
3 months ago

I might be reading this wrong, but I fail to see how it’s a Title IX issue whatsoever. Instead, it’s a football vs everyone else, male or female, issue.

I don’t disagree with the plaintiffs, I just fail to see how it has anything to do with Title IX.

Robert Dickson
Reply to  The Original Tim
3 months ago

Football was only the most egregious example of the differences in treatment/opportunities for the male student-athletes vs. the female student-athletes.

The complaint goes on to say, “The football and beach volleyball teams are just the most glaring examples of the far superior treatment that Oregon provides to its male student-athletes program-wide.”

Female Student-Athletes account for just above 49% of all varsity athletes at Oregon, but the University spent only 25% of its total athletic expenditures on them and only 15% of the recruiting dollars on them.

The Original Tim
Reply to  Robert Dickson
3 months ago

Again, this sure sounds like a football vs everyone else issue.

What is the breakdown of athletic expenditures and recruiting dollars by sport? Take out the football team and its ridiculous outlays and what does the breakdown look like then?

Unless there is substantial context missing in this article, there is no indication that the school missed any of the three Title IX prongs listed in the article. Are the female athletes underrepresented vs their enrollment? Absent that context, based solely on what’s written in this article it seems like the plaintiffs are throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

If the actual lawsuit is this light on detail and context, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if… Read more »

3 months ago

happening everywhere

ScottyJ 2.0, LLC
3 months ago

How do the attendance numbers and TV ratings compare between the club rowing team and beach volleyball team compared to the football team?

Reply to  ScottyJ 2.0, LLC
3 months ago

Title IX doesn’t care about that. You need to read and understand the law.

ScottyJ 2.0, LLC
Reply to  Pescatarian
3 months ago

A rower of any sex expecting to have the same NIL opportunities as the QB of one of the most visible cfb programs in the country is just asinine.

Some non revenue sports and some of their current and former student athletes seem intent on trying to destroy the very system that allows them to exist.