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Cohen v.

Brown University
1st Circuit Court of Appeals
991 F.2d 888 (1st Cir. 1993)

Key Search Terms: Title IX, cut-backs, college athletics

Facts
In response to budgeting restrictions and financial problems, Brown University
demoted women’s volleyball, women’s gymnastics, men’s golf, and men’s water
polo to intercollegiate club sports. This downgrading had the effect of cutting
off all subsidies to the sports including salaried coaches, facility access,
medical trainers, and office support. Although the university allowed the teams
to continue to compete against other schools’ varsity teams, demoting a team
to club status usually causes other varsity teams to remove the team from their
schedule. Both before and after the cut back, the university offered women
just over 36% of the athletic opportunities it did to men. Based on these
numbers, members of women’s volleyball and gymnastics teams brought a
class action suit against the university under Title IX.

Issue
The issue is whether the preliminary injunction should be granted, which
would restore the teams to varsity status.

Holding
The 1st Circuit affirmed the injunction reasoning that the Title IX case was met
by the plaintiff’s argument of the following factors: numerical disparity and
unmet interest. The court of appeals further reasoned that the university’s
reading of Title IX is legally flawed on two counts. First, the requirement of full
accommodation of the underrepresented gender is not met. Second, the
athletes whose teams have been cut have been excluded from participation in
and denied the benefits of their athletic program based on sex. The court
reasoned that based on this test, the university is not in compliance with Title
IX.

Summarized By: Erika Nelson