Female Athletes file Title IX lawsuit against SDSU

SDSU+Rowing+and+other+athletes+have+gone+to+court%2C+saying+the+school+violated+Title+IX+of+the+Education+amendments+of+1972

File Photo

SDSU Rowing and other athletes have gone to court, saying the school violated Title IX of the Education amendments of 1972 by depriving women of equal federal financial aid.

by Jason Freund, Sports Editor

In November 2020, San Diego State announced it would be cutting its women’s rowing team, citing financial difficulties brought along by the COVID-19 pandemic along with gender equity compliance.

Now, many athletes affected by this decision are striking back with a class action federal lawsuit.

On Feb. 7, seventeen current and former athletes at SDSU filed a federal class action lawsuit against the university claiming SDSU violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by depriving women of equal federal financial aid. Eleven of the 17 plaintiffs were former members of the rowing team while six are current members of the track and field team.

The lawsuit is seeking SDSU to compensate the athletes for lost financial aid, comply with future Title IX requirements and end discrimination against female athletes.

They are being represented by Bailey and Glasser, LLP alongside Haeggquist & Eck, LLP and CaseyGerry.

Arthur Bryant, a partner of the Bailey and Glasser law firm and a lawyer representing the athletes, said SDSU has not been giving their women athletes a fair amount of financial aid for a long time.

“So, basically it’s ‘look, the school has been and is cheating its women athletes out of equal athletic financial aid in violation of Title IX to the tune of over half a million dollars a year,’” Bryant said. “That has to stop… it [the university] needs to pay the women back the value of the financial aid it should’ve given them. That’s what this financial aid case is about.”

Regarding the lawsuit, SDSU released a statement noting their high number of scholarships awarded to both men’s and women’s athletes while stating their disappointment in the “incomplete picture presented by the plaintiffs’ lawyers about the support for and successes of SDSU’s female student-athletes.”

Title IX is a civil rights law that requires schools to grant an equal amount of athletic financial aid to male and female athletes in proportion to their participation rates.

For example, if women make up 60% of all athletes at a school, said school is required to award as close to 60% of the athletic financial aid as possible.

In the 2019 to 2020 season, the 315 female student-athletes accounted for 58.12% of all athletes at SDSU. In that same season, SDSU awarded a total of $9,198,841 in athletic financial aid, according to the Equity in Athletics Data Analysis.

What percentage of money went to the female athletes? 50.57%, a total loss of $694,267.88.

This proves that SDSU is in clear violation of Title IX, according to Bryant.

“It’s clear under the law there is a strong presumption, that there is discrimination under the basis of sex,” Bryant said.

The losses continued as recently as last year. In 2020 to 2021, the 305 female athletes donning an Aztecs uniform represented 57.22% of all student-athletes.

 Only 50.64% of the $8,679,501.00 in awarded athletic financial aid went to women.

The complaint also discloses the amount of financial aid each athlete received during their time as an athlete in comparison to the average cost of attendance at SDSU. The total price for in-state residents was $28,142 while the price for non-residents was a whopping $39,320. 

The case states that all listed athletes were eligible for a full-ride scholarship at dates “relevant to this case.” Under a full-ride scholarship, the entire cost of attendance would have been covered.

Instead, athletes received only a partial amount of money. Some even received as little as $800 for their books while others didn’t receive any athletic financial aid at all during certain years.