MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A member of the University of Minnesota’s men’s gymnastics team has filed a lawsuit against the university.
Last year, the university eliminated the team in a cost-cutting move and also to meet Title IX requirements. Evan Ng was a men’s gymnast at the university, before his program was cut along with men’s tennis and indoor track and field.
“When the university announced the men’s gymnastics team would be eliminated, my dreams were pretty much crushed,” said Ng.
He said he trained his entire life to be a college athlete. Now, he’s fighting back.
“This isn’t just about me, but the gymnasts that I’ve competed with. This program is bigger than us,” said Ng.
The lawsuit filed Friday morning highlights the success the program has had over the years, even sending gymnast Shane Wiskus to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Ng’s attorney alleges the university cut the program because Title IX requires an equal number of men and women athletes. The lawsuit, which is directed at the Board of Regents, Athletic Director Mark Coyle, and University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel, alleges that the men’s programs were cut based on a “misguided, unlawful, and unconstitutional attempt to comply with Title IX.” They are suing because they believe Ng is no longer a college athlete because of his sex.
“It violates the constitution’s equal protection clause which prohibits governments, like state universities, from making sex-based decisions,” said attorney Caleb Trotter.
Trotter believes that if they win this lawsuit, it would open the door for not only men’s gymnastics to return, but other sports as well.
Last month the Board of Regents said COVID-19, Title IX, and financial concerns were the main reasons for cutting those programs.
“We went through the difficult process and we made the call and that was a year ago. I think we are very much focused on moving on,” said regent Ken Powell.
But Ng and other athletes said they aren’t ready to give up.
“We hope the school will do the right thing and stop discriminating us based on our sex,” said Ng. He says he continues to train with the hope that the men’s gymnastics program will be reinstated.
He was allowed to keep his scholarship after the cuts were made.