ECU women’s sports teams cut, lawyer threaten lawsuit

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 7:12 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The ECU men and women’s tennis and swimming/diving teams were cut in May amid financial difficulties due to the pandemic, and now, the women’s teams, backed by a California-based lawyer, are threatening a potential lawsuit.

“I just felt lost,” said Randi Palandro, an ECU junior who was on the swimming team.

“ECU’s undergraduate enrollment is about 57%,” explained Arthur Bryant, the attorney at Bailey Glasser. “The opportunities to play sports it is giving women is about 50%. That is a straightforward, clear, blatant violation of Title IX and the law.”

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination by any educational institution receiving federal funds, one of which is ECU.

“By denying them equal opportunities to participate in sports, by denying them equal financial athletic aid, and by denying them equal treatment in the athletic program,” said Bryant. “We have strong evidence ECU is doing all of these things.”

Bryant sent a letter to ECU Chancellor Ron Mitchelson Monday, asking for the women’s tennis and swimming/diving teams to be reinstated.

He asked for a response by Thursday.

“If ECU decides it doesn’t want to talk, then we just go to court,” said Bryant. He said that is the last thing they want to do, but they will proceed if the school fails to reach out.

ECU has previously cited financial reasons for the cuts.

Mitchelson responded to the lawsuit saying the university takes these allegations seriously and will need more time to investigate. He added they will also use outside legal counsel to review the lawsuit.

Bryant says he has worked on about a dozen other Title IX cases where the majority resulted in teams being reinstated.

Bryant also emphasized that the women’s teams want both men and women’s teams to be reinstated; however, the discrimination on the basis of sex is against the women.

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