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.
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.
See Connecticut Sports Law’s coverage of this matter: