BINGHAM FARMS, Mich., Jan. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Michigan State University is facing another lawsuit alleging mistreatment of its female students.
MSU's Women's Swimming & Diving Team today filed a lawsuit alleging that the university has systematically and historically discriminated against its female student athletes, in violation of Title IX. Title IX requires schools to offer equal athletic participation opportunities, resources and funding to both male and female student athletes. Newkirk Zwagerman, PLC of Des Moines, Iowa, and Bogas & Koncius, PC of Bingham Farms, Michigan, are representing the MSU Women's Swimming and Diving Team.
The lawsuit is a result of MSU's decision, announced October 22, 2020, to eliminate its 38-member women's swimming and diving team at the end of the 2020–2021 academic year. MSU female student athletes have asked MSU several times to reverse its decision and comply with the law, but MSU has refused to do so.
"We are saddened and disheartened that MSU continues to discriminate against women when it comes to intercollegiate athletics," said Newkirk Zwagerman's Jill Zwagerman. "The university is out of compliance with respect to participation, scholarships and other program conditions for these female athletes. While MSU claims it cut swimming and diving because of budgetary issues, that is not a valid defense to Title IX requirements, nor is it true. For example, the school recently unveiled a facilities upgrade that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Unfortunately, the only way these women can obtain justice is now through the courts."
The filings ask that MSU be directed to reinstate the women's swimming and diving program and "add women's varsity athletic opportunities until defendants offer equal opportunity to participate in varsity athletics free from discrimination." This includes adding more meaningful and competitive opportunities for women, and also providing equitable scholarships and benefits to all female student athletes at MSU.
Zwagerman added that prior to cutting swimming and diving, MSU already needed to add 42 women to its intercollegiate athletic programs to be in compliance with Title IX participation standards.
The plaintiffs also allege that MSU is "padding" its Title IX reporting by carrying excessively large rosters in certain sports, wherein many "members" of these teams do not get meaningful opportunities to compete in official events during the course of a season.
"MSU has again decided that female athletes are disposable and hasn't learned its lesson after the deplorable abuse scandal within its gymnastics program. MSU has chosen to treat its female athletes as second-class citizens by ignoring its duty and responsibility to them. We gave MSU the chance to do the right thing and reinstate swimming and diving, but once again, it chose to violate Title IX and the rights of women," said Zwagerman.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court — Western District of Michigan. Attorneys Zwagerman, Lori Bullock, and Danya Keller of Newkirk Zwagerman, P.L.C. of Des Moines, Iowa, and Brian Konicus of Bogas & Koncius, PC of Bingham Farms, Michigan, are representing the plaintiffs.
In 2018, Newkirk Zwagerman successfully litigated (Mayerova v. Eastern Michigan University) in United States District Court, Eastern District Michigan, Southern Division, whereby the plaintiffs were granted a preliminary injunction, finding that Eastern Michigan University violated Title IX by eliminating its women's tennis and softball teams.
SOURCE Newkirk Zwagerman, PLC and Bogas & Koncius, PC