LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A ruling from a US district court judge said that Michigan State’s decision to cut its swimming and diving programs violates federal law, but also said the university is not required to reinstate them.
The attorney and group behind the lawsuit said the recent ruling is one step in the process of reinstating the teams.
Title IX prevents sex-based discrimination, making sure universities offer equal athletics opportunities for men and women. After MSU was found noncompliant in that regard, they are now given 60 days to submit a plan to the court to resolve the violation.
The group called ‘Battle for Spartan Swimming and Diving’ said they have a solution that could be a win-win for both sides.
“Well, I would hope that the final goal is to actually avoid the trial and get Michigan State to reach a settlement and reinstate both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs,” Tom Munley with Battle for Spartan Swimming and Diving said.
He tells 6 News that the judge’s ruling is a step in the right direction, but would have liked to see more done.
“So, in one half, the judge basically said ‘yes, Michigan State is in violation of Title IX,’ but then she didn’t go far enough in terms of restoring the rights to participation for the women,” Munley said. “So, I think in that sense, it was a little disappointing that she didn’t actually serve the interest of justice and restore the opportunity for the women to compete.”
And an attorney for the group tells 6 News they’re not backing down.
“I will continue to fight that fight, I know that they are continuing to fight this fight,” Lori Bullock said. “This is one step in the process and we are moving forward.”
She adds it’s important for everyone, but also adds that this year is Title IX’s 50th anniversary.
“Schools have had 50 years to get into compliance,” Bullock said. “What we really hope that MSU does, is take this step, protect these women, do the right thing, and reinstate these opportunities.”
The group said they’re hoping MSU will resolve the issue without cutting any other sports.
“The better alternative would be to take advantage of a ready-made program with student-athletes on campus and an extensive network of alumni and parents that are willing to support that program,” Munley said.
And hopes they won’t have to move forward with the final trial in Jan. 2023.
“We’re very encouraged by the ruling and looking forward to seeing the next steps and hope that the board of trustees are watching and that they agree that the right next step is to reinstate both programs,” he said.
MSU Deputy Spokesperson Dan Olsen tells 6 News that the university is looking into its plan to resolve the non-compliance issue.
“We are reviewing the judge’s decision to determine appropriate next steps,” Olsen said.