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University of Tennessee Settles Title IX Lawsuit


The Title IX lawsuit that was filed against the University of Tennessee in early February has now been settled by the university. The university will pay $2.48 million to the eight women who were part of the lawsuit, and that total encompasses attorney fees for the plaintiffs.

According to The Tennessean, school officials also agreed to the appointment of a special independent commission to review the response to sexual assaults at all universities within the UT system. Under the terms of the settlement, the University of Tennessee did not admit to “guilt, negligence or unlawful acts.”

In turn, the plaintiffs will withdraw two complaints over the university’s handling of sexual assaults filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in 2015.

The full cost of the settlement will be split evenly between the university’s central administration and the athletics department. The athletics department was the department at the center of the plaintiffs’ allegations. The payout will come from “income generating activities” within the university, meaning no tuition, fees, donations, or tax dollars will be used in the payment.

The eight plaintiffs alleged that the University of Tennessee created an environment within the athletics department that led to sexual assaults and alleged the disciplinary hearing process was biased towards athletes. The football team in particular was the center of the allegations.

Football head coach Butch Jones, athletic director Dave Hart, outgoing Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, President Joe DiPietro, and other UT coaches will not be deposed or face questioning at a trial because of the settlement.

The university had stated they intended to fight the lawsuit from Day 1, and they did so mostly on procedural grounds. UT attempted to have the cased moved from Nashville to Knoxville, but that motion was ultimately denied. The case was then scheduled to be heard sometime in 2018.

But the settlement means no future proceedings will take place, and the current Title IX lawsuit will officially be brought to a close once the university pays out its settlement to the eight plaintiffs.

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