Despite complaint, investigation, Gophers say they ensure gender equity

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Members of the U.S. Department of Education were at the University of Minnesota athletic facilities this week – interviewing coaches and comparing size and quality differences between locker rooms and offices as they determine whether the athletics program is discriminating against women's sports, the Star Tribune reports.

Title IX, implemented more than 40 years ago, bans sex discrimination in both athletics and academics. The Gophers have a note about the regulation on their athletics website.

U of M athletics director Norwood Teague was adamant in telling the newspaper he's proud of the way all Gopher athletes are treated, and that the school does a good job ensuring "gender equity.”

Pam Borton, the longtime women's basketball coach who was fired following the 2013-14 season, doesn't view it the same.

“There was a change in the pendulum,” Borton told the paper. “I could see it, I could feel it and it was not going over very well with me. Things that were equitable before, when I left they were not.”

In February, the U of M released a statement saying the complaint specifically focuses on the U's plans to build a new athletics village, which the university hopes to begin construction on this fall.

"The complaint specifically references the planned athletics village, which will serve all 750 University of Minnesota Student-Athletes and the proposed relocation of the current outdoor track. The University and Athletics Department are currently working on a fair and equitable solution to this issue," the statement says. 

Ongoing issues at UMD

The U of M isn't the first state school to deal with Title IX allegations this year. In February, longtime University of Minnesota-Duluth women's hockey coach Shannon Miller coached her final game with the Bulldogs after the school decided to let her go because of a high salary and recent results. Miller, who won five national championships, claimed UMD was parting ways with her due to her gender and sexuality.

“Discrimination rears its ugly head in many forms, and I feel I have been discriminated against because I’m a woman," Miller told the Duluth News Tribune in February. "I feel I have been discriminated against because I’m gay.”

Two more UMD coaches have left the school since Miller was fired. Softball coach Jen Banford opted against signing a one-year contract extension after the program declined her the opportunity to continue as director of women's hockey, and women's basketball coach Annette Wiles left citing an unhealthy environment.

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