Last Wednesday a federal judge ruled in regard to a 2003 case that UC Davis did not discriminate against women wrestlers. However, the judge did find that UC Davis violated certain parts of Title IX, a set of guidelines created to provide equal opportunity in athletics for both men and women.
The case, Mansourian v. Regents of the University of California, was based on complaints made in 2001 by four women wrestlers who said that they were denied the right to join the UC Davis wrestling team due to their sex.
The claims were brought against four UC Davis officials, former Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, former Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Robert Franks, former Athletic Director Greg Warzecka and former Associate Athletic Director Pam Gill-Fischer.
In his ruling, Judge Frank C. Damrell wrote that the plaintiffs were not cut from the team because of their sex.
“Plaintiffs were cut because, like other male student-athletes who did not make the roster, they could not compete at the Division I, PAC-10 level intercollegiate wrestling,” he wrote.
However, when it came to “Prong 2,” a specific part of Title IX, Damrell decided that UC Davis was not completely complying with the rule. Specifically, he said that UC Davis should have provided more options for women athletes when two women’s junior varsity teams were cut in the 2000-01 school year. The mixed results of the ruling led both sides of the lawsuit to claim victory.
After the eight-year lawsuit, UC Davis Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Fred Wood said that he is glad that the judge made his ruling.
“We are gratified, after all these years, at this vindication of our record of supporting equality for all students,” Wood said in a statement.
Nacny Sheehan, the attorney that represented the university said that this ruling showed the quality of UC Davis athletics.
“Although he found the opportunities that were lost as a result of dropping JV teams should have been replaced sooner, overall his findings reflect what we all know about the UC Davis Athletics program: it is one of the best in the nation,” Sheehan said.
Christine Ng, one of three remaining plaintiffs in the case, said that she was glad that this case could help UC Davis athletics with increasing equality between the sexes.
“We brought this case nearly a decade ago to ensure that all women at UC Davis had a fair chance to play sports. I am proud to be a part of a case that led to important changes at UC Davis that did just that,” Ng said in a statement.
The judge will decide how much the plaintiffs will receive in damages at a later date.
This case received a large amount of public attention, and was covered in the New York Times and the Chronicle of Education.
After a similar case, Brust v. Regents of the University of California, the Women in Sports Equality Fund (WISE) was created in order to fund women’s athletic programs. This fund has already covered new rugby rucking pads, new field hockey uniforms and travel costs for UC Davis women’s athletics.
Currently, UC Davis has 14 women’s intercollegiate sports and 9 men’s intercollegiate sports and UC Davis states that the university now meets all Title IX criteria.
HANNAH STRUMWASSER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.