The U. S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of UMD in an appeal of cases which charged UMD with violating Title IX in connection with its athletic programs. The federal Title IX statute requires that colleges and universities provide equal opportunities for participation in men's and women's sports, and equal treatment on varsity teams.
In February 1999, the trial court hearing the cases disagreed with the claims against UMD and dismissed the lawsuit on all counts. The plaintiffs, former UMD students Julie Grandson, Jennifer Thompson, Renata Lindal and Ginger Jeffrey, then filed an appeal of the 1999 decision with the U. S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In an opinion filed last week, the appellate court agreed that the trial judge's decision to dismiss the cases should stand.
The appellate court recognized that, rather than discriminating against women in athletics, UMD had added athletic opportunities for women. It further noted that women's ice hockey (one of UMD's newest teams) recently won the NCAA Division One National Championship. The court credited UMD's work at increasing and improving opportunities for women in its athletic programs. It further held that "The efforts UMD made in fulfilling its commitments under the Compliance Agreement with the Office of Civil Rights, preclude a finding that UMD has been deliberately indifferent to its overall compliance obligations under Title IX."
UMD Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin said, "We are very pleased but not surprised by the decision. It is clear the court recognizes UMD's steadfast resolve to build a strong women's athletic program. UMD is committed to providing a quality athletic program for all students, both men and women."