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Tennessee Settles Title IX Lawsuit for $2.48 Million

The university admits no guilt and ends what was shaping up to be a lengthy battle in court.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

"Here are the facts," feels like an out of place line in the ongoing conversation on the Title IX lawsuit and the culture at Tennessee. But tonight, here are a few:  The University of Tennessee settled the February lawsuit from eight Jane Does claiming a hostile sexual environment on campus and deliberate indifference from the university. The bottom line is $2.48 million, to be split by the athletic department and the university. The Knoxville News-Sentinel report linked above includes a university estimate of $5.5 million in costs had the suit gone to trial. The university admits no guilt in the settlement.

I'm still not a lawyer, but those on both sides are saying what you'd expect in the aftermath:  UT officials calling this move the right thing to do, the vice chair of the board of trustees Raja Jubran saying, "Both sides would have lost," had the suit gone to trial, moving forward from here, etc.  Representation from the plaintiffs included this:

David Randolph Smith of Nashville, lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he and his clients were satisfied with the progress UT has made and know UT leadership to be committed to becoming a model in sexual assault education and response.

While some of the facts may always be in dispute, this progress must become the greater truth here. Whatever you or me or either side here believed the culture to be, is it better today? Will it be better tomorrow?

We'll all get back to football soon, and when the 2016 season arrives in just 57 days this is now a past tense conversation. But the culture is always present tense. Our hope remains whatever has happened here can be part of the larger process in helping make the University of Tennessee a safer, better place for everyone.