Sports Law • Risk Management

July 12, 2010: TITLE IX: Check With Legal Counsel Before Altering College Sports Programs

Prior to cutting college sports programs or its coaches, consult legal counsel. This seems like a simple concept, but Diablo Valley College still managed to get itself into hot water. When the college tried to eliminate funding for several men’s and women’s sports teams, it triggered a gender equality Title IX compliance investigation by the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”). Early on the college succumbed to the pressure and reinstated the sports teams, but refused to rehire the coaches who made the complaint to the OCR. The former coaches view the college’s decision as retaliatory since the coaches made the complaint.

It is unclear if Diablo Valley College discussed with its legal counsel the potential ramifications of cutting the sports programs and not rehiring the coaches. However, this is a good lesson for colleges to run its major decisions through its general legal counsel, in particular if it impacts a federal law called Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.