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

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
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.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

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 Can Public Money Go to Religious Schools? A Divisive Supreme Court Case Awaits
The justices will weigh Maine's exclusion of religious schools from its "tuitioning" program for students from towns without high schools.
13 min read
The Carson family pictured outside Bangor Christian School in Bangor, Maine on Nov. 5, 2021.
Institute for Justice senior attorney Michael E. Bindas, left, accompanies Amy and David Carson who flank their daughter, Olivia, outside Bangor Christian Schools in Maine in early November. The Carsons are one of two families seeking to make religious schools eligible for Maine's tuition program for students from towns without high schools.
Linda Coan O’Kresik for Education Week
Law & Courts Students Expelled, Suspended for 'Slavery' Petition Sue District
The lawsuit claims the officials violated the students’ First Amendment, due process, and equal protection rights.
3 min read
Image of a gavel.
Marilyn Nieves/E+
Law & Courts Infowars' Alex Jones Ordered to Pay Damages to Sandy Hook Families in Defamation Lawsuits
The Sandy Hook families will have an opportunity to present to a jury the extent to which Alex Jones' hoax claims harmed them.
Zach Murdock, Hartford Courant
5 min read
Alex Jones speaks outside of the Dirksen Senate office building in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 5, 2018. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, April 5, 2021, declined to hear an appeal by the Infowars host and conspiracy theorist, who was fighting a Connecticut court sanction in a defamation lawsuit brought by relatives of some of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Alex Jones speaks outside of the Dirksen Senate office building in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 5, 2018.
Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo
Law & Courts In a Major Ruling on School Masks, Federal Judge Sides With Vulnerable Students
The ruling that a Texas ban on mask mandates discriminated against students with disabilities could reverberate elsewhere.
5 min read
Juliana Ramirez, 8, a third grader, often crawled into her closet to minimize distractions from her younger siblings when Zooming into school during lockdown last year.
Juliana Ramirez, a 3rd grader, often crawled into her closet to minimize distractions from her younger siblings when Zooming into school during lockdown last year.
Julia Robinson for Education Week