This past spring SUNY Albany’s athletics director made the decision to cut the women’s tennis team. The problem with the cut, in terms of Title IX compliance, was that Albany does not meet the proportionality prong. When a university cuts a women’s team it must, by default, provide opportunities proportional to the gender breakdown in the undergraduate student population because it is neither expanding opportunities for women nor is it accommodating the needs and interests of students (because there is a viable team of interested women–the team that just got cut).
The decision was contentious because AD Mark Benson told head coach Gordon Graham, who is part of the lawsuit, last spring that the team was being cut and Graham told his players, most of whom were international students who had to negotiate visa and recruitment issues, about the then-secret decision to the cut the team at the end of the season. Graham also filed a complaint with OCR. According tothis article, Albany would have to add 97 opportunities for women in order to meet prong two.
OCR investigated this fall and found that the university was not providing equitable opportunities. Albany entered into a voluntary resolution agreement that included a three-year plan to increase athletics opportunities for women. However this statement from Benson makes me wonder exactly how they plan on achieving equity: “We have no plans to add any teams or bring teams back and no plans to cut any programs. We’re not in a position from a budgetary standpoint to do that.”
The university needs to recover money, allegedly, from the loss of revenue from the New York Giants who held summer training sessions on the campus.
Does Benson plan on adding 97 spots to current women’s teams?
This response may be why four athletes and Graham filed the lawsuit. The athletes are seeking reinstatement of the team. Gordon is also alleging age discrimination (he is 65) saying that he was pressured to retire before being told his contract would not be renewed. No report on when the lawsuit will be addressed in the courts.