Brown University’s appeal denied by the Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an action hailed as a victory for sexual equality, the Supreme Court refused to free Brown University of rulings that the Ivy League school discriminated against female athletes.
Although Monday’s court action is not a decision and therefore sets no legal precedent for other universities and colleges, the practical effect may be enormous.
“I think the message that goes across the entire country today is that those who have been dragging their feet are duly warned that the time is now,” said Christine Grant, athletic director for women’s sports at the University of Iowa. “It’s a very clear message and long, long overdue.”
Lawyers for Brown had argued that lower court rulings in its case could require schools nationwide to offer varsity opportunities for women based on “a stark numerical quota.”
Those courts had ruled that Brown violated a 1972 law known as Title IX.
The law, credited by many with changing the face of women’s sports and influencing society’s attitudes about women, bans discrimination in education based on sex. All government-run schools and private schools that receive federal money are covered by the law.
Even before learning of the high court’s denial of review, Brown officials on Monday submitted for a federal trial judge’s approval a plan for complying with Title IX.
The plan calls for increasing by about 60 the number of varsity team positions available to Brown female athletes so their total number mirrors the overall student population.
The school does not plan to cut any men’s teams, and gives varsity status to three additional women’s teams — lightweight crew, equestrian and water polo.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Brown spokesman Mark Nickel said the school “has believed all along that our program of athletics for men and women meets the requirement of Title IX.”
The school’s appeal had argued that “the use of Title IX to mandate adherence to preferential quotas presents an issue of exceptional importance that warrants resolution now.” It added: “Universities with budgetary constraints must cut academic offerings to fund additional teams for women, cut teams for men, or risk liability for damage and loss of federal funds.”
Lynette Labinger, a lawyer for the women who sued Brown, said, “It’s just a relief to see an end to litigation.” She said the school spent more than $1 million in defending steps it took to save $66,000.
The school’s unsuccessful Supreme Court appeal had been supported by, among others, the American Council on Education, 60 universities and colleges and 49 members of Congress.