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In light of the enormous disruptions caused to institutions of higher education by the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities are facing myriad hard choices regarding the fall semester. College athletics poses a particular challenge given the inevitable close contact required between student athletes. Many universities are therefore considering altering, shortening, or eliminating seasons and post-season conferences. As they do so, however, they must keep in mind the possibility of equity challenges brought under Title IX. Given the financial strains COVID-19 has precipitated, universities may understandably wish to focus first on bringing back sports, such as football, that provide greater economic benefits. But bringing back certain male sports without giving female students comparable opportunities will open universities up to significant litigation and enforcement risks.
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