Florida State University Agrees to Add Women's Lacrosse Team, Develop Gender Equity Plan, and Comply With Title IX
For Immediate Release. For more information, contact:
Lori Bullock, Partner, (515) 231-6008, email@example.com
Arthur Bryant, Partner, (510) 507-9972, firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida State University has agreed to add a varsity women’s lacrosse team, develop a gender equity plan, and bring its intercollegiate athletic program into compliance with Title IX to avoid a threatened class action sex discrimination lawsuit by members of its women’s club lacrosse team. The school will also change its requirements for students and others seeking new varsity teams.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal civil rights law, prohibits sex discrimination by any educational institution receiving federal funds. In athletics, it requires school to provide female and male student-athletes with equal opportunities to participate, equal athletic financial aid, and equal treatment and benefits.
“This is a great victory for the women at FSU and all who care about Title IX and gender equity in sports,” said Bailey Glasser’s Arthur Bryant, lead counsel for the women. “We are proud to represent the courageous women on the club lacrosse team, who decided to stand up and fight. We also commend FSU, which decided to do the right thing. We are grateful to them all.”
“These young women did everything FSU required to get a varsity team added,” said Bailey Glasser partner and co-counsel Lori Bullock. “After FSU wouldn’t even consider their petition, these women refused to take no for an answer. Now, they’ve created an extraordinary legacy: FSU is going to have a varsity women’s lacrosse team for many, many years -- and it’s going to comply with Title IX.”
“We are thrilled that, together, we are making history,” said FSU women’s club lacrosse team captain Sophia Villalonga. “We hope this will prompt women nationwide to enforce Title IX and demand equality. And we hope FSU’s willingness to provide that will prompt other schools to do so, too.”
In addition to Villalonga, the women’s club lacrosse team members who won this victory are Anastasia Aston, Delaney Clark, Kenzie Conway, Ciara Cotter, Erin Cotter, Ally Cowan, Sarah Douglas, Ashley Feinberg, Marley Hoffman, Ansley Jackson, Robyn Jaszczak, Johanna Kowalski, Lauren Lacey, Maria Lovelace, Katie Marasciullo, Ava Martino, Mia O'Donnell, Darby Reagan, Ella Shatzer, Emily Sriboonlue, Shannon Staples, Bella Steigerwalt, and Megan Writt. Former team members Rebecca Campos, Karson Gruber, Genesis Gutierrez, Kellyn Kunkle, and Meghan Martinez and student coaches, Inde Lauer and Lexi Bubar, also played a key role.
The threatened lawsuit stemmed from the May 2022 publication by USA Today of the first of a series of investigative reports on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, entitled “Title IX Was Intended To Close the Gender Gap in College Athletics. But Schools Are Rigging the Numbers.” The article highlighted FSU’s past refusal to upgrade its women’s club lacrosse team to varsity status and quoted both Villalonga and Bryant.
On July 7, 2023, working closely with Bullock, thirty members of the women’s club lacrosse team formally petitioned to have their team elevated to varsity status. FSU’s Policies & Procedures Manual says, “Once the petition is prepared in full the Director of Athletics will review it and present it to the Athletic Board with his/her recommendation.” That did not happen. Instead, one week later, FSU wrote back: “At this time, we are not actively evaluating the addition of any sports programs to our current collection of teams.”
Within a month, on August 2, 2023, Bailey Glasser wrote to FSU President Richard D. McCullough on behalf of the women, bringing these facts to his attention. The letter said we “hope we can resolve this dispute without the need for litigation, but, if not, we will pursue a sex discrimination class action against FSU for violating Title IX.”
FSU responded quickly and, today, this ground-breaking settlement was announced.
To read the settlement agreement, click here.
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