A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that Michigan State University does not have to reinstate its women's swimming and diving team despite not being in compliance with the Title IX law, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The judge ordered Michigan State to submit a plan within 60 days outlining how the university will comply with the federal law that requires equal athletics opportunities for men and women, and also how it will reduce or eliminate the existing gender gap.
"On the present record, the Court finds that MSU's participation gap after accounting for natural fluctuation is around 31 opportunities for women, which is the average participation gap over the past eight years," U.S. District Judge Hala Y. Jarbou wrote in an opinion issued Monday. " … Over the last eight years, the participation gap has ranged from 12 to approximately 50, with an average of 31. In all these years, the gap disfavored women."
Former members of the women's swimming and diving team sued the university in January 2021 after Michigan State discontinued the program in October 2020. The plaintiffs claimed that decision violated Title IX by providing fewer athletic participation opportunities for women. They wanted the court to issue a preliminary injunction to immediately reinstate the program, which was initially denied in February 2021. The U.S. Sixth Court of Appeals overturned that decision and sent the case back to Jarbou.
The plaintiffs and university presented their arguments for and against an injunction in federal court last month.
Jarbou's ruling this week granted the motion for preliminary injunction in part by ordering Michigan State to submit a compliance plan.
"It makes little sense to require MSU to use its finite resources to temporarily reinstate the women's swimming and diving team where, even if Plaintiffs succeed on their claims, MSU could chart a different course in a few months' time," Jarbou wrote in the opinion. "Those resources are better spent on what is more likely to be a sustainable course of compliance over the long term."
Michigan State has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case, according to the Free Press.