This Note examines if, and to what degree, courts should consider the pressure put on universities to address sexual misconduct on campus as support for an accused student’s Title IX claim of gender discrimination during university disciplinary proceedings. This Note begins in Part II by discussing the prevalence of campus sexual assault and the ways in which Title IX is used to address it on university campuses. Part III examines reverse Title IX claims by accused students, including the various causes of action and the pleading standards required. Part III also surveys the success of reverse Title IX claims using public pressure on universities to address sexual assault to support their allegations of gender discrimination. Part IV then evaluates the way summary judgment rules and burden-shifting frameworks affect the likelihood of success for reverse Title IX claims. Finally, Part V emphasizes the need for clarity and consistency in the evaluation of reverse Title IX claims. In considering the purposes and policies of Title IX, this Note ultimately argues that reverse Title IX claims, especially those relying on external pressure on universities, should be assessed in a strict and limited manner going forward. This Note concludes in Part VI by discussing the possibilities of proposed changes to federal regulations and their impact on reverse Title IX claims.
Washington and Lee Law Review - Title IX
by Michael A. Carrier & Christopher L. Sagers
In O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n, then-Chief Judge Claudia Wilken of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a groundbreaking decision, potentially opening the floodgates for challenges to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) amateurism rules. The NCAA was finally put to a full evidentiary demonstration of its amateurism defense, and its proof was found emphatically wanting. We agree with Professor Edelman that O’Bannon could bring about significant changes, but only if the Ninth Circuit affirms. We write mainly to address the NCAA’s vigorous pending appeal and the views of certain amici, and to explain our strong support for the result at trial. Reversal of Judge Wilken’s comprehensive and thoughtful decision would thwart needed changes just as colleges are beginning to embrace them and would be mistaken as a matter of law. O’Bannon is a correct, justifiable, garden-variety rule-of-reason opinion and should be affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.
by Sherman Clark
In this response to Marc Edelman’s Article, The District Court Decision in O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association: A Small Step Forward for College-Athlete Rights, and a Gateway for Far Grander Change, 71 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 2319 (2014), I highlight a set of conceptual issues that must be confronted if courts are to craft a coherent and stable body of law governing the NCAA’s treatment of student-athletes. First, the value of the product at issue here—college sports—is intimately connected with the nature of the labor used to create it. Second, the nature of that value is amorphous, contingent, and greater than the sum of its parts. Third, the fairness arguments that drive much of the litigation in this area are based on tenuous assumptions about the relationship between the labor used to create the product and the value of the product.
by Matthew J. Parlow
The O’Bannon decision made a significant change to one of the philosophical pillars of intercollegiate athletics in allowing for greater compensation for student athletes. At the same time, the court took only an incremental step in the direction of pay for college athletes: The decision was limited to football and men’s basketball players—as opposed to non-revenue-generating sports—and it set a yearly cap of $5,000 for each of these athletes. However, the court left open the possibility for—indeed, it almost seemed to invite—future challenges to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s restrictions on student-athlete compensation. In this regard, the court’s incremental step in college athlete pay may be a harbinger of more dramatic and structural changes to come in the college athletic system. While this Essay does not take a normative position on the legal or economic justifications for such a possible change in intercollegiate athletics, it does seek to describe some of the potential unintended consequences of a free(r) marketplace for student-athlete services. In particular, this Essay analyzes the possible implications and impact on Title IX, as well as college athletic opportunities and values more generally. In doing so, this Essay attempts to explain why the court’s more cautious approach may be needed going forward to balance the varied interest in the college athletic system.