Federal officials are looking into Eastern Michigan University in the wake of major cuts to its athletic programs.
It comes as a female student-athlete is taking a serious accusation to federal court and showing us how EMU is explaining its decision.
Ariana Chretien is a student-athlete at Eastern Michigan University, a member of the school’s now former women’s softball team.
Chretien is suing over alleged inequality in the school’s athletics.
“You set these goals throughout the school year of what you’re going to do next year, and those are all kind of gone,” she says.
Along with 83 other student-athletes, she says she’s now forced to weigh her passion for sports against her future profession, now that EMU has canceled women’s softball along with other sports as a cost-cutting measure to save millions.
“My major is aviation, and not a lot of schools have that. So, either I find a school with aviation but no scholarships or scholarships but no major,” she says.
As a result of a complaint filed last April with the federal Office of Civil Rights, investigators are examining allegations the school isn’t complying with Title IX rules that colleges must match the proportion of male and female athletes to the ratio of overall enrollment or show a history of expansion.
At EMU undergraduates are roughly 60-percent women and 40 percent men. The lawsuit claims athletics are 44-percent women and 56-percent men.
“Having equality for men and women is really important for myself,” Chretien says. “I’ve had girls come up to me and say they want to play softball at EMU.”
EMU refused to speak with us on camera. In part of a statement issued to 7 Action News university spokesman Geoff Larcom says:
EMU will cooperate fully with the Office of Civil Rights Inquiry. It is important to note that following the sports reductions, Eastern now maintains ten female teams and seven male teams. We believe our budgetary actions in this matter are wholly appropriate and justified.
Eastern Michigan is also pointing out that they’re still honoring all student-athlete scholarships for those who stay.
They’re also helping any of them who plan to compete elsewhere.