San Diego State University

17 Student-Athletes Sue SDSU Over Alleged Title IX Violations

Attorneys for the women say the class-action suit is the first case in the country to seek damages over financial aid for student-athletes

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Seventeen female student-athletes are suing San Diego State University over alleged Title IX violations, claiming the school allotted disproportionate financial aid benefits compared to male students.

The class-action suit claims SDSU owes current and former athletes more than $1.2 million in financial aid benefits going back more than two years, and claims the school has been out of compliance for far longer.

"... Since at least 2010, SDSU has been cheating its women athletes out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in equal athletic financial aid each year. This is illegal sex discrimination, plain and simple. It has to stop," said Arthur H. Bryant, lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

Title IX laws protect against sexual discrimination at schools. In regards to financial aid benefits, schools must dole out funds to male and female student-athletes proportional to their participation rates in school sports.

The lawsuit claims, citing documents SDSU submitted to the federal government under the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, that female student-athletes received around 51% of athletic financial aid in 2019-2020 when they made up more than 58% of student-athletes.

"SDSU granted its 315 female varsity student-athletes over $690,000 less—and its male varsity student-athletes over $690,000 more—than they would have received if SDSU had granted the aid in proportion to the number of students of each sex participating in intercollegiate athletics," the student-athletes' attorney explained in a press release.

The following season, female student-athletes saw around 51% of financial aid benefits despite making up 57% of the student-athlete population, the suit claims.

"It is a sad day for the entire SDSU community that we have to sue the university to make it comply with Title IX and provide athletic financial aid equally to women and men," said senior and former women’s varsity rowing team member Madison Fisk. "Title IX has been the law for 50 years now and SDSU still isn’t providing its female athletes with equal scholarship support. It’s time for that to change."

 In response to the lawsuit, SDSU accused the student-athletes of painting an "incomplete picture" of its financial support to student-athletes.

"We are disappointed with the incomplete picture presented by the plaintiffs’ lawyers about the support for and successes of SDSU’s female student-athletes," the university said in part. "We have and will continue to put our students first. There are always opportunities to make additional improvements, and we will continue to prioritize equity, access and the full SDSU student-athlete experience."

Read the full lawsuit here.

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