University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Can cheerleading be a varsity sport? Not right now
August 10, 2012
In Biediger v. Quinnipiac University, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit just ratified the plaintiffs' trial court victory, affirming a district court ruling subjecting Quinnipiac University's athletic program to court supervision, until it remedied its discrimination against women athletes.

When Quinnipiac University announced in 2009 it was shutting down its varsity women's volleyball team, team members and their coach sued, arguing that Quinnipiac discriminated against its female students by denying them varsity athletic participation opportunities equal to male students, in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Judge Underhill, District of Connecticut, agreed in 2010. In two opinions in 2010, Judge Underhill had chronicled numerous shady practices by the University that inflated the number of female athletes counted, without corresponding athletic opportunities for women students. He held that the University’s competitive cheerleading team was too underdeveloped and disorganized to qualify as a varsity sport for the purposes of Title IX; that Quinnipiac was impermissibly triple counting women cross-country runners (tallying them, as well, as participants in indoor and outdoor track, even when they did not in fact so participate); and that some women's teams rosters were padded, to increase their number without actually providing varsity athletic opportunities to the extra women listed. The Court required Quinnipiac to comply with Title IX, and not to do away with volleyball for at least a year. The Court of Appeals, endorsed each finding in an opinion dated August 7, 2012, by Judge Reena Raggi.

Back in the district court, Quinnipiac is now arguing that they've come into compliance and therefore the injunction should be dismissed. Trial on that issue is set to conclude in March 2013. All the details follow the link below.

Relevant case(s) include: