The Mississippi University for Women (MUW) (defendant) was a state-sponsored single-sex public university. MUW upheld a policy of excluding men from admission. Joe Hogan (plaintiff) was a registered nurse in Mississippi that did not hold a degree in nursing. However, he had worked for over five years as a nursing supervisor in Columbus, Mississippi; the city in which MUW was located. In 1979, he applied for admission to MUW’s School of Nursing degree program, but was denied admission because he was male despite the fact that he was otherwise qualified. Hogan brought suit against MUW in federal district court on the grounds that his denial of admission violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court upheld MUW’s admissions policy, holding that it furthered a legitimate state purpose, but the court of appeals reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.