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Judge: Slippery Rock sports cuts violated Title IX

PITTSBURGH -- Slippery Rock University must reinstate two
women's sports it cut for budgetary reasons because the school is
not complying with a federal law requiring equal opportunities for
female athletes.

The university said in January it was cutting eight sports to
save $350,000, including women's field hockey, water polo and
swimming, as part of an effort to erase a $2 million shortfall.
The school later decided to keep field hockey, but members of the
women's swimming and water polo teams challenged the cuts in court.

U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose ruled last Friday that
university president Robert Smith was wrong not to consider
compliance with Title IX, a law requiring schools that receive
federal money to provide equal sports opportunities for men and
women.

"Knowing that SRU was not compliant with Title IX, Smith
nevertheless decided not to consider Title IX compliance in
determining which teams to eliminate," Ambrose wrote.

Slippery Rock officials declined to comment Monday and referred
questions to the state attorney general's office.

A spokesman for the attorney general, Nils Frederiksen, noted
that Ambrose said her ruling could change if the university can
demonstrate Title IX compliance in the future.

"It's not a permanent issue and we expect it will be revisited
in the future, although it's unclear when that will be,"
Frederiksen said.

Beth Choike of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., was the lead plaintiff in
the lawsuit. Choike, who will be a junior, was captain of the swim
team and also played water polo, and receives a partial scholarship
for both sports.

"I never lost hope and I never stopped fighting for it,"
Choike said Monday. "We're reinstated for the next year and I know
my teammates and I are very pleased."

The school, which also cut men's swimming, water polo, golf,
wrestling and tennis after the school year ended, had argued in
court that it tried to be fair in deciding which sports to cut.