(The Center Square) — Title IX is at the center of a lawsuit a University of Minnesota student filed Friday.
Evan Ng filed his suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, naming the university’s Board of Regents, director of athletics and president as defendants.
Ng participated on the university’s men’s gymnastics team until the university eliminated it after the 2020-2021 school year.
Ng seeks to get the program reinstated and claims the university violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX.
University of Minnesota PR director Jake Ricker told The Center Square in an emailed statement Tuesday that the university’s decision to eliminate three intercollegiate sports programs was difficult.
“Importantly, this lawsuit isn’t just about the University,” Ricker said. “It is a broad challenge to how Title IX has been implemented by the U.S. government across colleges and universities nationwide to achieve equal opportunity. The University has and will always honor its legal obligations.”
The other teams the Board of Regents cut in an October 2020 decision were men’s tennis and men’s indoor track and field.
“The primary reason cited for eliminating the men’s teams by Defendant [Director of Athletics Mark] Coyle … was the University’s perceived need to align its ratio of male athletes with the ratio of male undergraduates under University administrators’ understanding of Title IX,” Ng’s suit says. “During two subsequent Board of Regents meetings on September 11 and October 9, 2020, Defendant Coyle and several members of the Board of Regents specifically referenced Title IX and statistical proportionality concerns as the reason for needing to eliminate men’s sports teams.”
Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Caleb Trotter is representing Ng in the lawsuit.
“We took the case because of the importance in challenging the University of Minnesota’s use of quotas to eliminate opportunities for athletes due to nothing more than their sex,” Trotter told The Center Square in an emailed statement Tuesday. “The University’s belief that Title IX — a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs like athletics — somehow requires it to have a set number of sports teams or roster spots determined by sex, turns the law on its head and violates the Constitution’s broad prohibition on treating people differently based on sex.”
Trotter said the Title IX statute clearly states quotas are not required and the Constitution does not support the university’s decision.
“Regardless of the legal outcome of the case, we are hopeful that the University and the community will see that implementing sex-based quotas merely treats individuals as numbers on a ledger, and does nothing to increase opportunities for students to compete in sports,” he said. “Universities do not take this approach with the marching band, drama department, or classes in general — and for good reason. Merely assuming that the makeup of participants in any program should perfectly match statistical proportions of the University’s enrollment ignores the preferences and complexity of students as individuals.”