A Canadian man, on behalf of his 17-year-old daughter and other affected parties, is suing Delaware State University in federal court over the school’s decision to eliminate the women’s equestrian program.


A Canadian man, on behalf of his 17-year-old daughter and other affected parties, is suing Delaware State University in federal court over the school’s decision to eliminate the women’s equestrian program.

In the class action complaint filed Feb. 17 in the U.S. District Court for Delaware, Dover attorney Ron Poliquin alleges DSU violated Title IX, committed fraud and breached its contract with the plaintiff by ending the program in January.

Ontario resident Wayne Blakely’s daughter Melia Blakely signed a letter of intent in November 2009 to attend DSU and compete for the team, which prevented her from “exploring other athletic scholarship opportunities with other colleges and universities,” the complaint states.

Melia Blakely, a native of Coldwater, Ontario, won the 2009 Canadian Appaloosa 18-and-under Reining Championship and is rated fifth out of 700 riders in the 2008 World Reining Horse Association 14 to 18 competition.

DSU added an equestrian program in 2005 to bring the school into compliance with Title IX, which requires universities and colleges to provide equal opportunities for women to compete in collegiate sports.

Because 60% of the school’s full-time undergraduate students are female but receive less than 46% of athletic opportunities, the complaint states, disbanding the equestrian team “denies equal access to present and future DSU students who have the interest and ability to compete at the varsity level of horseback riding.”

“It is not prudent for us to comment on pending litigation, and for that reason we have no comment on the lawsuit,” said DSU spokesman Carlos Holmes.

The decision to eliminate the equestrian program, as well as the men’s tennis team, was in an attempt to lower the school’s $12 million athletics budget.