Arezou, Christine and Lauren: Fighting for Women’s Rights in College Athletics
February 11. 2013
For Immediate Release
Feb 11, 2013
Arezou Mansourian, Christine Ng, and Lauren Mancuso were recruited by the UC Davis wrestling coach and came to Davis in 2002 on athletic scholarships in order to pursue varsity wrestling. All three women were pioneers in the sport. Arezou placed at the North Coast sectionals in high school and won numerous tournaments. Christine participated in national high school championships and led her state as team captain. Lauren was an Olympic hopeful, who placed third in California’s 2001 state championship for girls and was nationally-ranked.
Imagine their shock and disappointment when UC Davis eliminated women’s opportunities in wrestling after they had arrived on campus thus depriving them of their hard-earned athletic scholarships. Refusing to quit, the three women retained ERA to file a Title IX suit against UC Davis in 2003. While the case, Mansourian v. Regents of the University of California, continued long after the graduation of Arezou, Christine and Lauren, the women racked up a series of victories for Title IX culminating in the settlement of the case in February 2012.
In August 2011, the three women scored a major win after a three-week bench trial on the issue of whether UC Davis violated Title IX when they were students. A federal district court in Sacramento found in their favor, ruling that UCD dropped more than 60 intercollegiate sports opportunities for women without replacing them – soundly defeating the University’s claim that it had been expanding opportunities for women to satisfy Title IX.
Other legal milestones included a landmark win at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which rejected the imposition of procedural hurdles to Title IX suits challenging athletic participation inequities and creation of a fund that has awarded over $70,000 in grants to developing female athletes on the UC Davis campus.
Shortly the lawsuit was filed, women’s wrestling made its Olympic debut in 2004 and today thousands of girls now participate in wrestling across the country.
Christine: “All we ever wanted was to represent UC Davis in sports. We litigated this case for nearly 10 difficult years and missed that opportunity. It should not have to take that long to achieve justice, but we are happy that the lives of many young women attending UC Davis after we did have benefited and will benefit from our fight for Title IX.” Lauren: “The case paved the way for so many girls who wanted to wrestle or participate in other non-traditional sports. For that, we are proud.” Arezou: “I have fought for women’s rights in college athletics for the past 10 years and the change it has brought for the future of women athletes has been worth the battle.”