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Federal civil rights agency, investigating Title IX compliance, requests 40-plus years of UND documents

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights has requested that UND submit numerous documents by May 12—some dating back to 1972—as part of its investigation into UND's Title IX compliance.

The OCR numbered 18 specific requests in a letter to UND President Mark Kennedy, which was obtained by the Herald, giving a window into the type of information the OCR will examine and into the depth of the investigation.

The OCR also said in the letter, which UND received on April 20, that it will be making at least one on-site visit as part of the investigation. Typically, the OCR does thorough evaluations of facilities while on campus.

There's no indication yet on how long the process will last.

The OCR declined to release the initial complaint that led to the investigation via an open record request, because it is not required to release documents during the case investigation or enforcement process.

It did confirm that the complaint alleges that UND discriminates against female students on the basis of sex.

The investigation was officially launched on April 14—a little more than two weeks after UND announced that it was cutting its women's hockey and men's and women's swimming and diving teams.

UND made the cuts as part of a campus-wide financial restructuring in anticipation of a dip in state funds.

Kennedy asked the athletic department to cut $1.3 million out of its annual budget. The budgets of women's hockey and men's and women's swimming and diving total roughly $2.9 million, but some of the money and scholarships from those sports will be reallocated into other sports.

The year 1972 frequently pops up in the OCR's request for information because that's when Title IX went into effect.

The 18 items requested by the OCR include:

1. A list of all teams, the league and division they play in, the number of athletes on each roster and the year of their eligibility.

2. The university's enrollment of full-time undergraduate students by gender.

3. A copy of any athletic gender equity studies conducted since 1972, a copy of all reports prepared since 1972 that discuss actual or possible growth and/or contraction of men's or women's teams or contemplated changes in division or conference affiliation for any sport.

4. A copy of all Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act reports submitted by the school.

5. The start date of the each athletics team and why the university added each sport.

6. An explanation of why and when any athletics team has been eliminated since 1972, including the number of athletes on each eliminated team.

7. A copy of all written requests and a summary of all verbal requests, since 1972, by any individual or group to expand new sports teams, and a description of the university's response.

8. A copy of all surveys conducted in the last three years gauging the interest level of students' or incoming students' interests and abilities.

9. A copy of any reports, assessments or findings prepared by or for the University in the last three years regarding the school's Title IX compliance with respect to participation opportunities.

10. A copy of results of any research conducted in the last three years to determine regional or national interest about sports not currently offered at the school.

11. A copy of any historical sport-by-sport participating data maintained by the school.

12. A description of all changes to the athletics department, either anticipated or implemented for 2016-17 and future years, including the dropping of more teams.

13. If available, copies of written policies, procedures and criteria—or if unavailable, descriptions of the school's process for determining whether sports teams will be added or eliminated.

14. A current list of all club and intramural sports and the number of participants by gender, a list of which of those teams have asked for elevation to varsity status in the last five years and copies of all records pertaining to the requests and responses.

15. The game and practice schedule of all teams for 2016-17, including the start date for the first practice, whether there are organized practices scheduled outside the regular season.

16. A full list and schedule of postseason competition during 2016-17—and a list of teams, by gender, that had opportunities for postseason competition but did not compete.

17. A list of all teams, by gender, that competed or will compete in exhibition or scrimmage games in 2016-17, the schedule of competition and those teams, by gender, that had opportunities but didn't compete.

18. Any other information that might help the OCR understand the university's athletics programs.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 12th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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