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Feds investigating U of M athletics after gender bias complaint

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The University of Minnesota says its athletics department is the subject of a "full-scale review" by federal investigators who received a complaint alleging gender discrimination.

The university issued a statement saying the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights received the complaint about intercollegiate athletics on the Twin Cities campus. The university offered no specifics about the nature of the complaint.

A U of M representative tells the Pioneer Press the investigation is examining the athletics department as a whole rather than a particular sport.

Track teams being displaced

The Pioneer Press reports sources – whom it does not identify – say the complaint is related to the impending construction of a football "performance center" at a site that's been home to the men's and women's track and field teams.

The football project means demolition of the Bierman Track and Field Stadium (below), which the GopherSports website calls "one of the best facilities in the country."

Athletics Director Norwood Teague told the Pioneer Press this week the university is still looking for a new place for the track teams.

An online petition drive launched last fall urged the university to keep track and field on campus.

The Star Tribune says the university's most recent report shows that of the 501 women who participated in intercollegiate athletics, 227 were on the track or cross country teams.

In its statement, the U of M says it hired a gender equity consultant to review practices in the athletics department before the federal complaint was filed.

The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights enforces the law known as Title IX, which requires schools receiving federal money to offer equal opportunities to men and women.

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