Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Austin v. University of Oregon, 925 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir. June 4, 2019)

School type: Public
State: Oregon
Federal Circuit: Ninth
Decision primarily favorable to: University
Stage of litigation: Motion to dismiss
Keywords: Due process, Erroneous outcome, Selective enforcement, Title IX

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims.

Three student-athletes at the University of Oregon were accused of having non-consensual sex with a female complainant. They were given the choice between a panel hearing or an administrative conference, and chose the administrative conference.

The Court affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ Title IX claims, holding that they had not plead anything beyond conclusory allegations to suggest that there was any connection between the outcome of their cases and sex discrimination. The Court also dismissed their “selective enforcement” claim, noting that Plaintiffs had not identified any situations in which female students charged with sexual misconduct had been treated differently.

The court also affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ constitutional due process claims:

Notice is not an issue here and nothing in the allegations supports a claim that the student athletes did not receive a meaningful hearing with the right to be heard. Importantly, they were represented by counsel and given a choice of a Special Administrative Conference or a Panel Hearing with a panel of students, faculty, and staff and the option to appeal. They signed a Special Choice of Resolution Form and chose the Special Administrative Conference. In doing so, they removed the possibility of expulsion and negotiated away a potential “negative notation” on their academic record, replacing it with a “notation of finding of Code violation – unspecified.” Because the student athletes were represented by counsel and negotiated the scope of sanctions, they can hardly be heard to complain about the administrative hearing’s procedural safeguards.