University of Kentucky sued, accused of discriminating against female athletes

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Two students have filed a lawsuit against the University of Kentucky, saying not enough is being done to create opportunities for female athletes.

University of Kentucky president Eli Capilouto and UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart were also named in the lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

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In the lawsuit, Elizabeth Niblock and Meredith Newman accuse the university of refusing to create varsity opportunities for women, and claim the university needs to add 183 women to the athletic program to be in compliance with Title IX requirements.

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in a federally funded institutions. The law requires women and men to have equitable opportunities to participate in sports.

The women say two years ago, representatives from field hockey, lacrosse and triathlon student clubs approached the athletic department about adding varsity sports but were denied. They say the students went to Capilouto and the Board of Regents and were denied again.

“These women are not asking for special treatment. They are merely asking to receive the same opportunities to be able to play, receive scholarships and all the benefits that come along with being a Division 1 student athlete at Kentucky, ” said Jill Zwagerman, the lead attorney for the women.

She goes on to say that filing the lawsuit was the last resort.

Jay Blanton, spokesperson for the University of Kentucky, released a statement on the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon.

“The University of Kentucky fully complies with intercollegiate athletics. As a campus community, we care deeply about Title IX and its regulations concerning participation in these issues. With 22 sports, UK has the broadest based athletics program in the Southeastern Conference. Based on our surveys of our students, the current sports offerings fully accommodate the interests and abilities of our undergraduate students.”