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Office of Civil Rights dismisses Title IX complaints against UND

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has dismissed a pair of complaints it received regarding UND’s Title IX compliance after the school eliminated its women’s hockey and men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams in March.

In a letter to UND President Mark Kennedy, the OCR wrote that “there is insufficient evidence to conclude that the University discriminates against female students on the basis of sex,” in regard to the selection of sports it offers and the number of male and female participants on campus.

It also noted that even though 2017-18 participant numbers cannot yet be calculated, UND is on track to be compliant if each remaining sport has the same number of participants as last year.

The OCR also dismissed a second complaint that the school discriminated against the women’s hockey team’s bid to reinstate the program based on sex.

The OCR informed the school of its findings in two letters that summarized its investigation of the two complaints it received.

Those were the only two complaints that were being investigated, UND said.

“We strive to be as fair and equitable as possible in all of our athletics programs at the University of North Dakota,” UND athletic director Brian Faison said in a statement. “It was a difficult and emotional decision to have to eliminate athletic opportunities because of the state’s budgetary crisis. We engaged in a thorough analysis to ensure our decision was consistent with our gender equity ideals. The conclusions by the Office for Civil Rights affirm that we are succeeding in upholding those ideals even under the most challenging budgetary circumstances.”

The two complaints were filed in late March, days after the UND women’s hockey team and men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams were eliminated by the school as part of universitywide cuts.

The OCR did not reveal who filed the complaints.

UND said it had anticipated the investigation and preemptively retained lawyers from the Baker Donelson firm in the weeks prior to the cuts.

The OCR opened its investigation into the two complaints in April.

After summarizing the complaints and why they were dismissed, both letters stated: “This concludes the OCR’s investigation of the complaint and should not be interpreted to address the University’s compliance with any other regulatory provisions to address any issues other than those addressed in this letter.”

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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