Federal Court Approves Title IX Class Action Settlement With University of Central Oklahoma

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Joe Heaton approved a class action settlement yesterday that requires the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) to provide female student-athletes with equal treatment and opportunities, hire an outside expert to conduct a review of its intercollegiate athletic program, and develop and implement a Gender Equity Plan to bring the entire program into compliance with Title IX. The settlement also provides UCO’s women’s varsity indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and cross country teams with specific relief starting in 2024-25, including equipment, supplies, transportation, publicity, and practice schedules equal to those provided to men’s varsity teams; access to college-level practice facilities; and the ability to host at least one home competition every year. And it prohibits UCO from retaliating against any of its female student-athletes in violation of Title IX.

The settlement resolves a Title IX class action filed against UCO in 2022 by Tatum Robertson and Eve Brennan, two members of the women’s varsity track & field teams, for discriminating against its female student-athletes. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination by any educational institution receiving federal funds.

The women’s indoor track & field, outdoor track & field, and cross-country teams at UCO—unlike any men’s teams—were provided no locker room, no competitive facility, and required to practice at a local middle school. When they complained about the unequal treatment they and other women athletes received, UCO fired their head coach.

“This lawsuit should not have been necessary,” said plaintiff and class representative Tatum Robertson. “We are delighted that UCO is finally going to stop discriminating against its women athletes and give them the equal treatment, benefits, and opportunities the law requires.”

“UCO has now agreed to everything we wanted from the start,” said plaintiff and class representative Eve Brennan. “That it took two years is particularly disturbing because Title IX has been the law for 52 years. But now UCO’s sex discrimination is going to stop.”

“We applaud the plaintiffs for fighting not only for themselves, but for all female student-athletes at UCO,” said plaintiffs’ counsel Lori Bullock of Bailey & Glasser, LLP. “We are honored to represent women who are willing to stand up to their universities and demand equality.”

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