The sports cuts last December angered Susan Borschel into challenging the university for something few have argued before.
“There weren’t enough opportunities for male athletes [after the cuts],” said Borschel, of Virginia, whose daughter Sylvie Borschel competed on the women’s gymnastics team and graduated last year.
“This is about [the administration’s] money mismanagement, [which is] unrelated to sports,” Borschel said.
In 2014, she filed a Title IX complaint against Temple for discrimination against male athletes.
“The fact that the Department of Education is taking this is landmark,” Borschel said. “I don’t think anyone has ever done this.”
When legislators added the Title IX amendment 43 years ago to the Higher Education Act of 1965, the national discussion was largely focused on concern for how gender inequality in collegiate sports negatively impacted women. But the law is written to ensure across-the-board equality, not to focus exclusively on females.
The amendment reads, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights handles complaints from the public. They accept complaints from alleged victims, their parents or guardians, or anyone else who feels an institution is not in compliance.
Borschel said her complaint stated that she wanted three of the cut programs reinstated.
“I want baseball, softball, and gymnastics brought back,” Borschel said. “That would make things fair.”
In a statement, a university spokesperson acknowledged the complaint was filed.
“The university is fully cooperating with OCR,” the statement reads. The spokesperson declined further comment.
In many court cases where men had filed complaints and Title IX was cited, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was also cited, which provides for equal protection under the law. For example, in Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan, the court held that all-female nursing schools could not prevent a man from attending for-credit courses.
In May, the DOE listed 55 institutions nationwide that are “under investigation for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.” Temple is one of five schools in Pennsylvania that made the list.
Temple has lost a Title IX challenge regarding funding for female sports in the past. In the 1982 decision Haffer v. Temple University, the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals held that even programs not directly funded with federal assistance were subject to Title IX compliance.
OCR continues to investigate the complaint, though Borschel could not say where the parties were in the process. Generally, there is a mediation attempt followed by a formal investigation if mediation fails. Either side can concede at any time.
“They [OCR] haven’t given me a timetable,” Borschel said. “But I’m not going away.”
You can reach Bob Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org