Competitive Cheering a Varsity Sport? Quinnipiac Title IX Case May Provide Answers

UPDATE:  Judge Stefan R. Underhill has ruled that cheerleading is not a sports for the purposes of Title IX compliance.  More analysis to come.

Quinnipiac University and its women’s volleyball team await the decision of U.S. District Court Judge Stefan R. Underhill in the Title IX case that was recently tried.  Although Title IX cases naturally attract attention in the academic and athletic communities, the Quinnipiac case has received an elevated level of attention, in part due to a unique issue.  That issue is whether competitive cheerleading should be considered a varsity sport for Title IX compliance purposes.

Michael McCann at the Sports Law Blog recently posted on this case, and on the cheerleading issue specifically:

…Although the NCAA does not recognize competitive cheerleading as a sport, Quinnipiac University argues that cheerleading is a sport and ought to be Title IX eligible. Indeed, Quinnipiac counted competitive varsity cheer squad members among the athletic opportunity allotments provided to women as mandated by Title IX. By counting their cheerleading team, the school reasoned that it could terminate the women’s varsity volleyball program and still report equitable allotments of athletic opportunities to men and women.

…Closing arguments occurred three weeks ago, and in its closing statement, Quinnipiac argued that competitive cheerleading meets every requirement for consideration as an emerging sport: “Don’t close the door to the thousands of women who intend to compete in this new sport and it is a sport. If the court doesn’t recognize it will be a death knell (to competitive cheerleading).” Quinnipiac intimates that if it could not count the competitive women’s cheer team under Title IX, the sport may be economically unsustainable and abandoned.

Click here to read McCann’s post in its entirety.

At the outset of this case, I wondered if Quinnipiac’s many athletic successes could be overshadowed by this high-publicity case.  The issue of whether cheerleading should be a varsity sport has only served to attract more attention to this case.

Stay tuned for coverage of the Court’s decision.

Check out the United States’ Amicus Curiae brief.

See Connecticut Sports Law’s coverage of this matter:

Trial Begins in Quinnipiac Volleyball Title IX Case

Quinnipiac Faces Title IX Lawsuit Over Elimination of Women’s Volleyball

Title IX Lawsuit Brings More Unwanted Attention for Quinnipiac

Quinnipiac Volleyball Players Testify in Title IX Lawsuit

Expert Analysis of Quinnipiac’s Compliance With Title IX

Quinnipiac Volleyball Team Reinstated After Injunction

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Judge Underhill’s decision is important because it offers a first-impression opinion by a federal judge that cheerleading is not a sport. It means that schools using cheerleading for purposes of Title IX should reconsider their policies or, if in Connecticut, change them. Keep in mind, though, other judges in other jurisdictions could reach different determinations, and given the lack of other precedent on this issue and given that cheerleading could become more formalized in the years ahead, it is certainly possibly that other judges, if faced with the same question, will conclude that competitive cheer is a Title IX eligible sport.Update: For an excellent analysis of this decision, see Professor Erin Buzuvis’s piece on Title IX Blog. See also Dan Fitzgerald’s extensive and insightful commentary of the case on Connecticut Sports Law. [...]

  2. [...] Judge Underhill’s decision is important because it offers a first-impression opinion by a federal judge that cheerleading is not a sport. It means that schools using cheerleading for purposes of Title IX should reconsider their policies or, if in Connecticut, change them. Keep in mind, though, other judges in other jurisdictions could reach different determinations, and given the lack of other precedent on this issue and given that cheerleading could become more formalized in the years ahead, it is certainly possibly that other judges, if faced with the same question, will conclude that competitive cheer is a Title IX eligible sport.Update: For an excellent analysis of this decision, see Professor Erin Buzuvis’s piece on Title IX Blog. See also Dan Fitzgerald’s extensive and insightful commentary of the case on Connecticut Sports Law. [...]

  3. [...] Competitive Cheering a Varsity Sport? Quinnipiac Title IX Case May Provide Answers [...]

  4. [...] Judge Underhill’s decision is important because it offers a first-impression opinion by a federal judge that cheerleading is not a sport. It means that schools using cheerleading for purposes of Title IX should reconsider their policies or, if in Connecticut, change them. Keep in mind, though, other judges in other jurisdictions could reach different determinations, and given the lack of other precedent on this issue and given that cheerleading could become more formalized in the years ahead, it is certainly possibly that other judges, if faced with the same question, will conclude that competitive cheer is a Title IX eligible sport. Update: For an excellent analysis of this decision, see Professor Erin Buzuvis’s piece on Title IX Blog. See also Dan Fitzgerald’s extensive and insightful commentary of the case on Connecticut Sports Law. [...]

  5. [...] Competitive Cheering a Varsity Sport? Quinnipiac Title IX Case May Provide Answers [...]

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