Softball won't return to EMU, for now
A federal appeals court says Eastern Michigan University does not have to reinstate its softball program. The Sixth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals issued the emergency stay on Thursday.
In the fall, a district court judge found EMU in violation of Title IX. That's after EMU cut women's and men's sports. School officials say they needed to make the cuts to balance the budget. The eliminations were said to part of an effort to reduce the athletic budget by $2.4 million.
A lower court had ordered the school to continue the women's softball and tennis programs. EMU agreed to reinstate tennis. This week's decision means EMU won't have to reinstate softball while the court considers the merits of the case.
Geoff Larcom is the executive director of Media Relations at EMU. He says the school's new plan benefits female athletes. In a statement, the university says it has "maintained that the lower court's preliminary injunction was an overreach, essentially placing it in the role of athletic director and determining which sports the university should have."
An excerpt from the ruling reads “…Title IX requires equality between men’s and women’s teams, not that certain teams (say women’s softball) be reinstated rather than other sports teams be created, supported, or expanded.”
Larcom says, "These Title IX obligations have to be met, they are important and they are the right thing to do. But, different sports have different levels of expenses and facility needs. So what we are trying to do is expand women's participation in a strategic way that benefits the most student athletes."
The university had already agreed to continue its tennis program. The resolution will be put on hold until the university's appeals case has been resolved.