CLEMSON, S.C. (WSPA)- Members of the Clemson University men’s cross country and track and field teams are fighting the university’s decision to cut their programs after this season. An attorney representing the student athletes has threatened to file a Title IX lawsuit.
For freshman student Carson Tillman, running track at Clemson University was a dream come true.
Now he’s afraid he won’t be able to finish the race. In November, Clemson’s director of athletics announced the men’s cross country and track and field programs would be discontinued after the current season. The director of athletics said at the time it was in the best long-term interest of Clemson athletics.
“Obviously after hearing the news, it really kind of took that dream away,” Tillman said. “It really hurt it.” He said he’s heard different justifications for the decision to cut the teams, from budget to diversity concerns. The teams’ members and supporters are pushing the university to reverse course.
A GoFundMe organized by Clemson alumnus Mike Beaudreau has raised more than $19,000, and tens of thousands have signed a petition to reinstate the programs. An attorney for team members’ said the elimination of the nearly 90 student athlete positions violates Title IX.
“Title IX is a law about equality,” said attorney Arthur Bryant. “It basically says that schools have to offer equal opportunities to participate to men and women.” He said the latest publically available data shows Clemson’s athletics are split just about 50-50 between men and women, but eliminating dozens of men’s track, field, and cross country positions would disrupt that balance.
In a letter dated Friday, Bryant asked the university president for more info that might shed light on why the university decided to cut these programs, but he said he hasn’t heard back yet.
“If I don’t hear back from there or they cannot provide a good explanation and show me that they are in compliance with Title IX, and we can’t reach an agreement, then we file suit,” Bryant said.
A spokesperson from Clemson University did not respond to 7News’ requests for comment.