Former Gophers men’s gymnastics athlete sues the University

Sophomore Evan Ng filed a lawsuit, claiming the University of Minnesota engaged in sex-based discrimination.

Athletic Director Mark Coyle addresses the Board of Regents in regards to a contract extension signed by head football coach P.J. Fleck at the McNamara Alumni Center on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. The deal, signed by Fleck last week, extends his contract through the 2026 season and will increase his base salary to $4.6 million.

Emily Urfer

Athletic Director Mark Coyle addresses the Board of Regents in regards to a contract extension signed by head football coach P.J. Fleck at the McNamara Alumni Center on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. The deal, signed by Fleck last week, extends his contract through the 2026 season and will increase his base salary to $4.6 million.

by Michael Lyne , Sports Reporter

Former Gophers men’s gymnastics athlete Evan Ng sued the University of Minnesota for eliminating his sport after filing a lawsuit Friday morning, claiming he is no longer a varsity NCAA gymnast because of sex-based discrimination engaged by the University.

Ng, a Chicago, Ill. native, is suing the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents, University President Joan Gabel, and Gophers athletics director Mark Coyle on two counts: sex discrimination in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and sex discrimination in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

“Cutting the men’s gymnastics team in order to reach statistical parity between the ratio of male and female athletes and the general undergraduate enrollment at the University violates ‘Title IX’s rule that “no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in…any interscholastic, intercollegiate, club or intramural athletics offered by the recipient…,” the lawsuit said.

On Oct. 9, 2020, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents voted 7-5 in favor to cut the Gophers men’s gymnastics team while also cutting the men’s tennis and indoor track programs after referencing Title IX and statistical proportionality concerns as the reason for eliminating the three sports.

Before citing these concerns, Coyle initially alluded to financial concerns as the reasoning behind cutting the three programs, projecting that the University’s athletic department could lose up to $75 million in revenue. The removal of the sports saved the athletic department an estimated $1.6 million.

Even after realizing the University’s athletics budget shortfall was significantly less than anticipated, the University did not reverse its decision to reinstate any of the three men’s programs, according to the lawsuit.

Ng, currently a sophomore, only competed in one collegiate gymnastics season before the University cut the program. He and his lawyers are hoping to reinstate the program through this lawsuit. However, it does not include the men’s tennis or indoor track teams.
Over its 118 years as a program, the Gophers men’s gymnastics team won 21 Big Ten Championships, produced two NCAA all-around champions, and recently sent former gymnast Shane Wiskus to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Although they cut the three programs, the University of Minnesota will honor the athletes’ scholarships until they graduate unless they transfer universities.