Court Case: Bull v. Board of Trustees of Ball State University

Case Adopted 02/12

Case Update (07/12):
In late June 2012, LAF-supported plaintiff Kathy Bull reached a settlement with Ball State University. She was awarded more than $700,000 in cash and benefits.

“I am proud that I stood up and asked for equity in my department. Because of my advocacy I know that Ball State athletics are in a better place for my former colleagues and all the current and future female student-athletes,” said Bull. “Victories in retaliation lawsuits should send a loud message to administrators across the country. Our recent win is a victory for all women who advocate for gender equity.”

Case History

Kathy Bull was the head coach for the women’s tennis team at Ball State University in Indiana for 21 years. There she advocated for Title IX issues and mentored young female coaches.

She was fired midseason in 2009, allegedly as the result of NCAA violations. However, Bull argues that she was fired in retaliation for speaking out in favor of gender equity in the athletic department. Over the course of five years, 11 of the 12 head coaches for women’s sports teams resigned or were fired. The U.S. Office for Civil Rights asked the university to investigate. Less than two weeks later, Ball State University said there was no evidence of discrimination.

In July 2010, Bull filed a lawsuit against the university in the U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana (case number 10-CV-08-78). The university filed a motion to dismiss Bull’s claims. In December 2011, the court decided not to dismiss the primary claim of retaliation.

Read more about the case in the New York Times and on the Title IX Blog.

Title IX at Ball State: A Tennis Coach Fights Back

by Hannah Moulton Belec

For 21 years, Kathy Bull served as the head coach for the women’s tennis team at Ball State University in Indiana. There she advocated for Title IX and mentored young women coaches. But midseason in 2009, the university abruptly fired Bull, allegedly for NCAA violations. Bull, however, claimed she was fired in retaliation for speaking out in favor of gender equity in the school’s athletic department — and she promptly filed suit under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

In July 2013, Bull — who received case support from AAUW’s Legal Advocacy Fund — settled her lawsuit with Ball State and was awarded more than $700,000 in cash and benefits, an outcome she couldn’t have attained without LAF and its passionate donors.

“When AAUW came on board, I was at my breaking point,” explains Bull. “AAUW brought not only much-needed fiscal support but also the emotional support I needed. All of a sudden this wasn’t just my battle; women all over the country were behind me.”

Sports have always played a huge part in Bull’s life. She credits many of her opportunities to Title IX, and she is happy that her case will encourage others to pay attention to the law. “I know that Ball State is a better place now for female coaches and student athletes,” Bull says. “I am proud that I can give back to the hundreds of women who will walk the halls of Ball State but I’ll never meet — they are going to have a better, more quality experience because of my case.”

December 16, 2013