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EMU may have to reinstate women's sports programs

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A federal district judge has issued a preliminary injunction against Eastern Michigan University's cuts to women's varsity sports. 

Judge George Caram Steeh says he issued the injunction because it is likely that two female athletes who sued EMU will prevail in their lawsuit, alleging that EMU violated Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.  

The lawsuit stems from cuts EMU made to its athletics programs last spring, because of budget problems.  The university cut men's wrestling and swimming and women's tennis and softball. 

Two of the female athletes who were involved in the cut sports sued, saying the cuts violate Title IX's requirement that women have the same educational opportunities as men. 

Steeh says just because EMU cut men's sports too does not mean the decision was fair, because women are underrepresented in EMU varsity sports to begin with. 

Both sides have been ordered to a status conference on October 23rd to come to an agreement on how EMU will reinstate the programs while the lawsuit is pending.

A separate Court of Claims lawsuit filed by EMU alums, alleging the Board's decision to cut the programs violated the Michigan Open Meetings Act, was dismissed in August.  

EMU says it's reviewing Judge Steeh's order and analyzing its next steps.  In a statement, the university says "the decision to eliminate four sports programs was extremely difficult. We initiated the action to reduce expenses in athletics consistent with strategic reductions across the university."

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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