Two University of Kentucky students are suing the school for not offering enough women’s varsity sports.
According to a federal lawsuit filed today, Elizabeth Niblock and Meredith Newman claim UK needs to add 183 women to its athletics programs to comply with Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs. UK’s student body is 55% female, but only 41% of the student athletes that participate in varsity sports are women, hence the discrepancy.
Niblock, a lacrosse and field hockey player, and Newman, a triathlete, claim UK refused to add field hockey, lacrosse and triathlon varsity programs when the club teams approached the athletics department.
“These women are not asking for special treatment,” said Jill Zwagerman, the lawyer representing the students. “They are merely asking to receive the same opportunities to be able to play, receive scholarships and all the benefits that come along with being a Division-I student athlete at Kentucky.”
Both UK President Eli Capilouto and Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart were named in the lawsuit, which accuses Barnhart of not adding a women’s varsity program during his tenure despite a 2004 self-study that suggested the athletics department should offer more opportunities for women. UK Spokesman Jay Blanton released this statement on behalf of the university.
“The University of Kentucky fully complies with Title IX and its regulations concerning participation in intercollegiate athletics. As a campus community, we care deeply about these issues. With 22 sports, UK has the broadest based athletics program in the Southeastern Conference. Based on our surveys of our students, the current sports offerings fully accommodate the interests and abilities of our undergraduate students.”
You can read the entire lawsuit here.