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Settlement in Lawsuit Over Women's Participation in Sports

June 17, 2009

The University of California, Davis, and plaintiffs Kelsey Brust, Jessica Bulala, and Laura Ludwig, all current or former students, have reached agreement in a class-action lawsuit about women’s participation in varsity sports. The settlement provides an agreed set of standards for female participation rates in varsity sports at UC Davis and also provides additional financial support for club sports at UC Davis.

Brust and Bulala, who played club field hockey, and Ludwig, who had wrestling experience and played club rugby, brought suit in July 2007 under the 1972 Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act (Title IX). The lawsuit was certified as a class action in October 2008. Both sides actively litigated the case, which was set to go to trial this October.

"We are thrilled," said Ludwig. "It feels good to have the university’s support for women’s athletics through this resolution. We are proud to have come up with a result that will benefit Davis for years to come. It will create more opportunities for women to participate in the sports that they love."

"UC Davis has a solid history of commitment to its female athletes and coaches and to expanding opportunities for women in competitive sports. While the parties have a difference in opinion about whether litigation was necessary, we're pleased that we have reached an outcome that benefits both sides," said Greg Warzecka, UC Davis athletics director.

During the course of the litigation, the university conducted an open application process and selected women’s field hockey as a new intercollegiate sport, to join the 14 other women’s varsity teams at UC Davis. A team has been selected, and competition will start this fall.

The agreed-upon settlement sets out a 10-year plan for UC Davis to reach specific proportions of male and female athletes by the 2019-20 school year. The university will either add women’s intercollegiate teams or will take other measures to ensure equal accommodation of student interest in varsity sports. UC Davis has also agreed to contribute $110,000 to a fund for the development of club sports, which the plaintiffs will distribute consistent with the purposes of the lawsuit.

"The time frames set out in the settlement maximize the potential to add varsity opportunities for women in the future. We are continually trying to maintain our compliance efforts to give women athletes the very best access to intercollegiate athletics competition possible," Warzecka said.

Added Brust, “The university’s sponsorship of a women’s intercollegiate field hockey team will allow field hockey players to contribute at even a higher level to the campus, and will provide incredible opportunities for many young women.”

"When we give women a fair share of athletic opportunities, we are developing leaders on and off the field,” said Noreen Farrell of Equal Rights Advocates, who represented the plaintiffs with Monique Olivier of the Sturdevant Law Firm and Kristin Galles of Equity Legal.

"Title IX has been served well today. We applaud the efforts of all parties in resolving this suit," said Olivier.

The settlement must be approved by the U.S. District Court in Sacramento after notice of its specific terms has been provided to members of the class.

About UC Davis

For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 31,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $500 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges -- Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science -- and advanced degrees from six professional schools -- Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

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