Judge says com­pet­i­tive cheer­lead­ing not an of­fi­cial col­le­giate sport

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

HART­FORD, Conn. — Com­pet­i­tive cheer­lead­ing is not an of­fi­cial sport that col­leges can use to meet gen­der-eq­uity re­quire­ments, a fed­eral judge ruled Wed­nes­day in or­der­ing a Con­necti­cut school to keep its women’s volleyball team.

Sev­eral volleyball play­ers and their coach had sued Quin­nip­iac Uni­ver­sity af­ter it an­nounced in March 2009 that it would elim­i­nate the team for bud­getary rea­sons and re­place it with a com­pet­i­tive cheer squad.

The school con­tended the cheer squad and other moves kept it in com­pli­ance with Ti­tle IX, the 1972 fed­eral law that man­dates equal op- por­tu­ni­ties for men and women in ath­let­ics. But U.S. District Judge Ste­fan Un­der­hill dis­agreed in a rul­ing that those in­volved say was the first time the is­sue has been de­cided by a judge.

“Com­pet­i­tive cheer may, some time in the fu­ture, qual­ify as a sport un­der Ti­tle IX,” Un­der­hill wrote. “To­day, how­ever, the ac­tiv­ity is still too un­der­de­vel­oped and dis­or­ga­nized to be treated as of­fer­ing gen­uine var­sity ath­letic par­tic­i­pa­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents.”

Quin­nip­iac has 60 days to come up with a plan to keep the volleyball team through next sea­son and com­ply with gen­der rules.

School of­fi­cials re­sponded to the rul­ing by say­ing they would start a women’s rugby team, but they re­fused to an­swer any ques­tions, dis­cuss the fu­ture of other ath­letic teams or say whether they would con­tinue of­fer­ing schol­ar­ships to com­pet­i­tive cheer­lead­ers.

An ac­tiv­ity can be con­sid­ered a sport un­der Ti­tle IX if it meets spe­cific cri­te­ria. It must have coaches, prac­tices, com­pe­ti­tions dur­ing a de­fined sea­son and a gov­ern­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion. The ac­tiv­ity also must have com­pe­ti­tion as its pri­mary goal — not merely the sup­port of other ath­letic teams.

Quin­nip­iac and seven other schools re­cently formed a gov­ern­ing body, the Na­tional Com­pet­i­tive Stunts and Tum­bling As­so­ci­a­tion, to gov­ern and de­velop com­pet­i­tive cheer as a col- lege sport.

Pre­vi­ously, com­pet­i­tive cheer­lead­ing cham­pi­onships were put on by two pri­vate or­ga­ni­za­tions with ties to Var­sity Brands Inc., which makes cheer­lead­ing ap­parel and runs camps.

Bill Seely, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of USA Cheer, a na­tional gov­ern­ing body for both side­line and com­pet­i­tive cheer­lead­ing, said he be­lieves the rul­ing rep­re­sents only a mi­nor set­back for the ef­forts to make cheer an intercollegiate sport.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity to look at what hasn’t worked and find what will work so we are cre­at­ing more op­por­tu­ni­ties for young women and not af­fect­ing other fe­male sports,” he said. “It’s an op­por­tu­nity to tweak some things.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.