WATERVILLE (AP) – Colby College has asked that a lawsuit filed by five female student athletes accusing the school of violating Title IX gender equity laws be dismissed.

Wendy Bonner, Kristin Putnam, Heather DeVito, Adrienne LeClair and Rebecca Avrutin last month filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Bangor asking that Colby be required to change practices they allege fall short of federal equity laws passed in 1972.

The students allege that Colby provides male athletes with newer and better equipment, that men’s teams get better travel conditions, and that men’s teams are given more locker room space of superior quality. They also said the school gives female athletes short shrift because two women’s coaches serve as the coaches of four teams.

In its response, Colby denies any wrongdoing and asks that the suit be thrown out.

“The statute they filed under applies only to public entities, and Colby is a private college,” said Jerrol Crouter, a lawyer representing the college.

Colby’s motion cites the dismissal of a similar equal protection complaint last year involving a student expelled from Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield.

Zachary Logiodice of Burnham brought a complaint against MCI for violation of his due process rights after being expelled from the school. The court ruled that although MCI does have students from School Administrative District 53, MCI is a private school and did not fall under the statute.

Besides accusing the school of violating Title IX laws, the students also claim Colby has violated their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Ray Yasser, a lawyer representing the Colby women, said he was neither surprised nor concerned with the dismissal motion.

“We often file both claims (Title IX and equal protection) in case something falls through the cracks,” Yasser said. “We’re looking forward to trying the case on the merits of the Title IX claim.”

Colby maintains that a system set in place in the mid-1990s which assigns a numerical value to each coaching position, regardless of gender, satisfies Title IX requirements.

AP-ES-07-10-03 0215EDT

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