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Blair v. Washington State University
Supreme Court of Washington
740 P.2d 1379 (1987)
In 1980-81, men’s athletic programs at Washington State University (WSU) (defendant) received over $3 million in funding, the majority earned through gate receipts and broadcast revenues. The football program generated $1.43 million alone. Conversely, women’s athletic programs at WSU only generated about $690,000, the majority of which came from legislative appropriations. Only $11,000 was earned from gate admissions. Blair (plaintiff) and other female athletes and coaches at Washington State University (WSU) (defendant) brought suit against the institution claiming that its distribution of athletic opportunities and resources violated the Washington State Equal Rights Amendment and the state’s Law Against Discrimination. Noting that WSU had engaged in “unlawful sex discrimination,” the trial court entered an injunction requiring the women’s athletic program receive 37.5% of WSU’s financial support given to intercollegiate athletics during 1982-83. Further, the minimum percentage for women was required to increase by 2 percent each year until it corresponded to the percentage of women undergraduates (44 percent). However, the court noted that the level of support for women’s athletics was not required to exceed by more than 3 percent the actual participation rate of women competing in sports at WSU, excluding the football program from the comparison. The trial judge also excluded the football program when he apportioned the funding for athletic scholarships and when he ordered WSU to increase opportunities for women in athletics until the level was commensurate with the proportion of female undergraduate students. Blair appealed the portion of the trial court’s opinion which excluded the football program from the calculations for participation opportunities, scholarships, and distribution of funds and the portion of the injunction excluding from the division of university financial support the revenue generated by any specific sport or program.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Dolliver, J.)
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