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WOMEN SOCCER PLAYERS FILE SUIT

 ATLANTA, April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- A class action suit was filed today against Auburn University on behalf of 18 female athletes who have repeatedly been rebuffed in their attempts to secure funding for a women's varsity soccer team.
 The plaintiffs, 17 of whom are current Auburn students, hope the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Montgomery, Ala., will force the school to instate a full varsity program by the fall and to maintain it at the varsity level.
 The students have been seeking less than $200,000 of a reported $18 million annual Auburn athletic budget according to one of their attorneys, Nancy E. Ryan. Forty-five percent of the university's enrollment is female, said Ryan, but only 12 percent of the school's athletic budget is currently earmarked for women's sports.
 The school is already under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education due to complaints regarding its funding practices for women's athletics.
 In February of this year, a petition signed by nearly 1,400 women asking for varsity status for the 7-year-old soccer club program was presented to university President William Muse and to Auburn athletic director Milo "Mike" Lude. There has been no response to their petition.
 There are 385 women's soccer teams at the varsity level in colleges and universities throughout the U.S. Female students at Auburn who desire to participate in soccer are faced with only two choices: participate in soccer at the intramural level or participate in the soccer club. The women's soccer club at Auburn includes four former all-state high school and one all-European player.
 Even though the school is in the process of constructing a $3.3 million baseball facility, the field provided for the women soccer players is only roughly one-half the size of a regulation soccer field and there are no nets to mark the goals. Longstanding potholes, still filled by recent rains, have caused injuries to several of the athletes.
 Speaking for the other plaintiffs, Susan Bradbury Kiechel, a 1992 Auburn graduate, said: "We made every effort to resolve this amicably. Auburn remains totally unresponsive to our requests. We still hope they will see the light and comply voluntarily before lots more money is spent on lawyers."
 While still a student at the school and a member of the soccer club, Kiechel noted that in her last attempt to speak with the school's athletic director, she was kept waiting for over five hours. "They stonewalled us until we realized that litigation was the only avenue we could pursue to get their attention," she said.
 Kiechel, who is now married and expecting her first child, said, "My playing days are past, but there are so many talented women athletes at Auburn who deserve the opportunity to participate in a varsity program that I just can't give up."
 The women are being represented in the suit by the Atlanta office of the national law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker and the Birmingham firm of Ritchie & Rediker. In addition to varsity status for women's soccer, the suit also seeks increased funding levels for all levels of women's sports at Auburn University.
 -0- 4/14/93
 /CONTACT: Nancy Ryan, 404-527-8226, or Lawrence Ashe, 404-527-8201, both of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker; or Tom Krebs of Ritchie & Rediker, 205-251-1288/


CO: Auburn University; Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker; Ritchie &
 Rediker ST: Alabama IN: SU:


BR-BN -- AT013 -- 0757 04/14/93 17:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 14, 1993
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