Louisiana State University has given female athletes short shrift, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Pederson v. LSU. Civil rights lawyers say the Jan. 27 opinion is groundbreaking because the court concluded that college athletes can collect monetary damages, not just injunctive relief, for violations of Title IX, which outlaws gender discrimination in education programs receiving federal financial assistance.

The female plaintiffs are two groups of LSU graduates: former fast-pitch softball players and soccer players who attended the school in the early to mid-1990s. Back then, LSU did not field teams in those sports, though it does now.