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Title IX lawsuit filed against Sevier Co. Schools over disparities between baseball and softball programs

The lawsuit says the softball program must use a public field, while the baseball program can use an on-campus facility.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — A lawsuit was filed against the Sevier County School System on Tuesday, saying that the system violated Title IX by treating the baseball program and softball program differently.

The lawsuit was filed by a father of a student in Sevier County and says the school system gives the baseball program more money than the softball money. Specific figures about how much they were funded were not immediately available. However, it also says that softball players have no "padded mobile batting practice cage," while the baseball program does.

It also says that the baseball program has three pitching machines, one of which includes video and analytics capabilities. According to the lawsuit, the softball program has a single pitching machine.

Sevier County baseball players "have exclusive control of the use of its facilities provided by" the school system, while the softball program must use a city park. It says baseball players get off-season training at the on-campus facility, while softball players need to do off-season training at an off-campus gymnasium.

Softball games are also held at the city park, while baseball games are held at the on-campus park. Because Sevier County High School's baseball team plays there, they said they can "charge a gate," while the softball program can't because it's played in a city park.

"The softball program does not have exclusive control of the use of this off-season training site, as the baseball program does of its on-campus facilities. The softball players, who are minor children, are at times required to find their own transportation to the off-season training site off-campus," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says that the football program also has an on-campus facility, and says that the baseball coaching staff is paid higher than the softball coaching staff at Sevier County High School.

It says the locker rooms for baseball players have three sectional couches with a table and television, while the softball locker room has four wood slab benches.

"The Sevier County High School baseball program has a ping pong table for the amusement and relaxation of the Sevier County High School baseball players. The Sevier County High School softball program has no ping pong table, nor does it have any room to put a ping pong table if it had one," the lawsuit says.

Softball players also do not have access to a weight training facility, unlike baseball and football players, the lawsuit says.

"If you take a read of the plaintiff's complaint, it seems to be that there are more opportunities afforded to the baseball players than the softball players," said Akram Faizer, a law professor at Lincoln Memorial University.

The lawsuit asks for an injunction against Sevier County Schools to stop Title IX violations.

Title IX is a federal policy that protects students in education programs or activities from discrimination due to their sex. It applies to any schools and educational agencies that receive federal financial assistance.

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