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Female College Athletes Score in Title IX Suit

By Michael DeRienzo, Esq. | Last updated on

Very few athletes get the chance to continue to play competitively after high school. In fact, according to a 2020 NCAA study, of the more than 8 million high school students playing sports, only about 480,000 of them will continue to play in college. That equates to roughly 6%, meaning that 94% of high school seniors are playing in their last competitive game this year.

Imagine how it must feel to be one of those 6%. You beat out millions of your classmates to be the best there it is. You sacrificed your time, your energy, and in many cases your childhood to prove to the world that you were ready for the big time. Now imagine that because of your sex, you might not be able to afford college, because the school refuses to help you.

Female athletes at San Diego State University are arguing in a lawsuit that they don't need to imagine it; they claim it's happening to them now.

The Fight for Educational Equality

Historically speaking, women have been deprived many of the opportunities afforded to men. In fact, two of the best colleges in the world, Harvard University and Yale University, only began allowing women into their classrooms in the 1970s.

This was the driving force behind the passing of the Education Amendments of 1972, also known as Title IX. Title IX states that educational institutions that receive federal funding cannot discriminate against individuals on the basis of sex. Title IX has since been used in countless cases involving gender discrimination and transgender rights.

Female Athletes Refuse To Sit on Sidelines

Recently, a group of current and former female athletes have employed Title IX in a new way by alleging unequal distribution in financial aid. In their 2022 complaint in Fisk v. Board of Trustees of the California State University, the plaintiff athletes alleged that San Diego State University violated Title IX. More specifically, the plaintiffs argued that San Diego State provided financial aid to male athletes at a disproportionate rate. According to the plaintiffs, in the two academic years prior to the complaint, San Diego State University provided female athletes $1.2 million less than their male counterparts in athletics financial aid.

Case Far from Slam Dunk

In April, 2023, the plaintiffs successfully proved that some plaintiff female athletes had standing to seek damages in the lawsuit. In September, the plaintiffs successfully overcame a motion to dismiss their third amended complaint and the court found all seventeen women could seek damages.

While they've cleared the first major hurdle, the athletes still have many more to go in hopes of crossing the finish line of litigation. Lawsuits can often feel like the longest baseball game ever, when every time one team scores, the other ties it in the next inning. But female athletes are used to stepping up the plate and showing the world that their just as good as everyone else, and sometimes better. If you want proof, just ask future hall of famer Albert Pujols how well he hit against softball legend Jenny Finch. He missed on all three swings.

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