This browser is not actively supported anymore. For the best passle experience, we strongly recommend you upgrade your browser.
| 1 minute read

Hawaii Title IX Settlement Breaks New Ground

Based on recent headlines involving the expansion of the National Women's Soccer League, including its new $240 million media deals, the expansion of the Women's National Basketball Association, and the star power of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's women's basketball, among other developments, the upward trend of women's sports seems clear. Despite these recent successes, Title IX, the federal law that requires equal resources (financial support, facilities usage, etc.) be devoted to girls'/women's sports as boys'/men's sports, remains a vital tool, more than 50 years after its enactment, in assuring that, in practice, resources are equally allocated.

Title IX litigation contesting the allocation of resources still happens, although a Title IX case that is actually tried, or even comes close to trial, is relatively rare. One such recent instance, is a class-action lawsuit brought by female high school athletes in Hawaii who were forced to practice water polo in the ocean, use bathrooms at a nearby Burger King and change under the bleachers, while male students had access to state-of-the-art facilities. After almost five years of litigation, the lawsuit brought by the female athlete plaintiffs against Hawaii's largest public school was settled last month on the eve of trial.

The settlement includes a $60 million Title IX budget to remedy and prevent any alleged sex discrimination in the future. The defendant school district likely determined that it risked losing, both financially and in the court of public opinion, had the case proceeded to trial, and that settlement was a better option. Perhaps even more surprising was that the litigation lasted five years and did not settle sooner, given the legal, financial, public relations and other risks to the school district. This case may well set a precedent for the resolution of future Title IX litigation and make other school districts give careful consideration to Title IX risks as they allocate resources for male and female athletes.


sports & esports, litigation