On August 3, 2011, federal judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. ruled the University of California, Davis (“UCD”) did not discriminate against female wrestlers ten years ago. In a lengthy opinion, Judge Damrell concluded that UCD’s elimination of a women’s wrestling team and treatment of female wrestlers was not unfair and university administrators “had the best interest of all their students at heart.”
During the time period at issue, UCD relied on “Prong 2” of the test used to determine compliance with Title IX, which calls for a history and practice of expanding intercollegiate athletic opportunities. “Prong 2” is a difficult prong to meet because there is no safe harbor or magic number codified by federal legislation or provided by case law. In fact, Judge Damrell stated the issues relating to “Prong 2” were difficult to resolve “in light of the dearth of guidance in this area of the law.” Although Judge Damrell applauded UCD’s history of program expansion, particularly the addition of lacrosse, water polo, rowing, indoor track, and golf, he concluded UCD should have moved more quickly and replaced the participation opportunities for women when it discontinued two women’s junior varsity teams in 2000-01.
In sum, Judge Damrell found “Plaintiffs were not cut from the men’s team because of their sex…. Rather, plaintiffs were cut…because, like the other male student-athletes who did not make the roster, they could not compete at the Division I, PAC-10 level in intercollegiate men’s wrestling.”
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