Law & Courts

Wrestling Coaches Lose Appeal Over Ed. Dept.’s Title IX Rules

By Michelle R. Davis — May 26, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A lawsuit by a college wrestling coaches’ group aimed at restoring athletic opportunities for male students has been pinned to the mat by a federal appeals court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on May 14 upheld an earlier dismissal of the suit claiming that the Department of Education’s regulations for enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 caused some colleges to scrap their wrestling teams.

The 2-1 ruling by a panel of the federal appeals court in Washington echoed a 2003 U.S. District Court decision that responsibility for the athletes’ grievances lay with the colleges, not the Education Department’s interpretations of Title IX. The law prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal money.

The loss of athletic opportunities for men in these instances comes from “the independent decisions of federally funded educational institutions that choose to eliminate or reduce the size of men’s wrestling teams in order to comply with Title IX,” says the majority opinion by the appellate panel. The majority also said a change in government policies would not rectify the situation; only the schools could do that.

Mike Moyer, the executive director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association, the Manheim, Pa.-based group that filed the suit, along with several others, said his organization planned to ask the full appeals court to rehear the case and, if turned down, would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We have no intention of stopping,” he said last week.

The association’s lawsuit challenged Education Department guidance from 1979 and 1996 on complying with Title IX, including a rule that allows colleges to demonstrate their compliance in athletic programs by providing opportunities for men and women in numbers proportionate to their enrollments. Institutions can cap or eliminate teams to get their proportions right.

Last year, a commission appointed by the Bush administration held hearings as part of a review of Title IX issues and heard from hundreds of male wrestlers, swimmers, gymnasts, and other athletes who blamed the elimination of their sports on the so-called proportionality test. Following the hearings and a controversial report from the commission, the Department of Education ultimately made no changes to the law. (“After Long Title IX Review, Agency Makes No Changes,” Aug. 6, 2003.)

Minority View

In his dissent from the appellate ruling, U.S. Senior Circuit Judge Stephen F. Williams wrote that schools that eliminated men’s sports programs had done so as a direct result of the Education Department’s Title IX rules, so the plaintiffs had legal standing to sue the department and not just the colleges.

“The complaint clearly alleges that the department regulations and policies represented a substantial factor in educational institutions’ decisions on the number and composition of sports teams,” he wrote.

Neena Chaudhry, a senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, a Washington-based organization that advocates strong enforcement of Title IX, said she didn’t believe any appeal by the wrestling coaches’ association would be successful.

“The decision shows that Title IX is not to blame for the losses of some men’s teams,” she said. “The real task is to enforce the law because there’s still a lot of discrimination against women and girls.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the May 26, 2004 edition of Education Week as Wrestling Coaches Lose Appeal Over Ed. Dept.’s Title IX Rules


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.
Education Webinar The K-12 Leader: Data and Insights Every Marketer Needs to Know
Which topics are capturing the attention of district and school leaders? Discover how to align your content with the topics your target audience cares about most. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Court Upholds School Resource Officer's Use of a Taser on a Student With a Disability
A federal appeals panel upheld qualified immunity for the SRO and rejected the student's disability-discrimination and civil rights claims.
5 min read
Photo of officer with taser in holster.
iStock / Getty Images Plus
Law & Courts California Sues to Stop District From Disclosing Trans Students' Name Changes or Pronouns
The lawsuit challenges the Chino Valley district's policy requiring schools to notify parents about requests for gender changes.
5 min read
California Attorney General Rob Bonta fields questions during a press conference on Aug. 28, 2023, in Los Angeles. California's attorney general sued a Southern California school district Monday over its recently adopted policy that requires schools to notify parents if their children change their gender identification or pronouns.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta answers questions from the media on Aug. 28, 2023, in Los Angeles. Bonta is suing the Chino Valley Unified school district over a policy that requires schools to notify parents if their children change their gender identification or pronouns.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
Law & Courts What Trump's Prosecution in Georgia Has in Common With the Atlanta Schools Cheating Case
The DA in the Georgia election interference case against Trump was a lead prosecutor in the school cheating scandal.
7 min read
Fulton County Chief Senior Assistant District Attorney Fani Willis takes notes while questioning University of Michigan professor Brian Jacob, a statistical analysis expert, as he testifies in a case against a group of Atlanta public school educators accused in a scheme to inflate students’ standardized test scores in Fulton County Superior Court, Ga., Feb. 10, 2015. Willis' most prominent case as an assistant district attorney was a RICO prosecution against the group of educators. After a seven-month trial, a jury in April 2015 convicted 11 of them on the racketeering charge.
Then-Fulton County chief senior assistant district attorney Fani Willis taking notes as a witness testified in a case against a group of Atlanta public school educators accused in a scheme to inflate students’ standardized test scores in Fulton County Superior Court, Ga., Feb. 10, 2015.
Kent D. Johnson/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
Law & Courts Lawsuit Spotlights California’s Restrictions on Researchers’ Use of Its Education Data
A California lawsuit has raised questions about researchers' access to education data.
6 min read
Large magnifying glass with a diverse group of figures circled around it on laptops analyzing data