A federal judge has denied St. Cloud State University's request to delay compliance with Title IX pending an appeal to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. District Judge John Tunheim on Wednesday rejected SCSU's argument that it would have to deprive male athletes of opportunities to comply with gender equity laws, calling that argument a "straw man."

SCSU had argued that cutting sports to comply with the judge's August order would irreparably deprive other students — presumably male, Tunheim noted — of opportunities.

The judge said SCSU failed to show it was likely to succeed on appeal, so he refused to delay his compliance order.

The ruling came a day after SCSU announced it would cut its football program, as well as men's and women's golf, to comply with the judge's order. The school also would start a new men's soccer team.

SCSU President Robbyn Wacker made the decision, but has not publicly commented. An SCSU spokesman said the cuts were made to comply with Tunheim's gender equity order and to address a deficit in the sports programs.

The underlying lawsuit was filed by former female athletes at SCSU who claimed unequal opportunities, as well as facilities that were well below the quality of men's sports.

The circuit court has not yet set a date to hear the appeal, but Tunheim is expected to call the parties into his courtroom for an update early in 2020.

Rochelle Olson