LIU agrees to keep softball team in Brooklyn following Title IX lawsuit

liu softball field
The LIU softball team will remain at the school’s Brooklyn Campus after some players filed a Title IX lawsuit.
Photo by Oscar Fock

Long Island University’s softball team scored perhaps its biggest win of the year last month, as LIU agreed to let the team stay in Brooklyn for another two years following a Title IX lawsuit filed against the university by some of the members of the team.  

On May 18, the plaintiffs filed a complaint in the District Court of Eastern New York, along with a motion for a temporary restraining order to stop LIU from relocating the team from the university’s Downtown Brooklyn campus to its other campus in Brookville, New York.

The lawsuit alleged that the softball team, as well as women’s sports in general at the school, have suffered years of less favorable treatment than male athletics at the university, and that relocating the team to the campus on Long Island was retaliation for bringing concerns of Title IX violations to LIU President Kimberly Cline. 

LIU brooklyn building
Plaintiffs alleged that women’s sports at the school have been treated less-than favorably, while LIU asserted the decision was strictly financial. Photo by Oscar Fock

Four days later, on May 22, District Judge Brian Cogan granted the temporary restraining order. 

A little over a week later, on June 1, the two sides agreed on extending the order until the end of the 2025 spring softball season. The agreement was a win, albeit a temporary one, for the softball players, who have been fighting the move since it was announced earlier this spring. 

“Considering everything, it feels like a big win,” said Samantha Garcia, one of the plaintiffs. While Garcia, who graduated this spring, won’t get to reap the rewards of the agreement, that was never what was important. “All I care about is that my team is getting the ability to play on a field they deserve.” 

The student-athletes learned about the decision that the team would be moved at a March 16 meeting with members of the administration. Since 2018, plaintiffs claim, the school has promised the team would get a new turf complex on the Brooklyn campus in compliance with NCAA Division 1 standards.

Instead, the players were told that starting with the 2023 fall semester, the softball program would be based out of LIU Post in Brookville. The players felt it was retaliation for the complaints of Title IX violations made by members of the team. In December of 2022, the plaintiffs emailed Cline, voicing their concerns over inequitable treatment, a lack of indoor practice facilities and “abundant” Title IX violations.

Ultimately, the students saw no way out but a lawsuit. 

“We wanted to find ways to try to compromise but as a team, we felt like they still weren’t hearing us. We felt like dollar signs to them, not student-athletes. So we wanted to stand up for ourselves, which was our right,” Garcia explained. 

LIU contended that the decision to relocate the softball team was purely financial, and “motivated purely by the inability to complete the Brooklyn softball field as originally anticipated,” the University wrote in a memo to the court. 

LIU declined the Brooklyn Paper’s request for comment on the recent agreement, stating that it’s unable to comment or respond to legal matters. An LIU spokesman told NBC New York in May, “It is in LIU’s best interest that field sports practice and compete at LIU Post’s 300-plus-acre campus and NCAA caliber facility.” 

For now, the team will stay in Brooklyn and see their long-awaited home field finished. 

LIU softball field
Litigation has been paused until next month as the two parties work to find an amicable solution.File photo by Colin Mixson

“I am very happy with the outcome. I think LIU was able to work with us in the sense that we both compromised and found a suitable meeting point,” said plaintiff Kira Buchner.

Her sentiment was echoed by the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Felice Duffy.

“I think the agreement showed good faith from both sides to work together to resolve this in a way that is beneficial to the LIU community,” Duffy explained.

The agreement also stayed the litigation process until August 15, to allow for the two parties to explore an amicable solution. 

“Hopefully through this, the school realizes the benefits of having the softball team in Brooklyn and allows the program to reside there permanently, where it belongs,” Garcia said.

Correction 07/27/23, 11:29 a.m.: A previous version of this story misspelled Kimberly Cline’s last name. We regret the error.