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High School Tennis, Sports Spared Schedule Cuts

July 16, 2009 07:00 AM
The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has reversed a decision to cut by 20 percent the schedules of all varsity sports, except football and cheerleading, due to a gender equity lawsuit filed against the FHSAA by a Jacksonville professor.

Tennis and other varsity sports excluding football and cheerleading would have not only been forced to cut schedules by 20 percent, but junior varsity sports would have been forced to slash budgets by 40 percent.

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, the law professor behind the suit she says is discriminatory, announced that the case has not been totally dismissed but is on hold for the time being.

"We have given ourselves until July 31 to come to an agreement," Hogshead-Makar said in a statement. "Obviously, there are issues that have to be resolved. We want what is called a declaratory action that states that Policy 6 (as it was initially amended by the FHSAA in April to reduce schedules) violated gender equity laws to give clear notice to all the other school districts and schools within those districts that they cannot make cuts that are not equitable...You cannot excuse football because it makes money. The law does not allow that."

Critics charged the schedule changes hurt female athletes more than males.

"We don't believe we violated Title IX," said FHSAA Executive Director Roger Dearing, speaking to Florida Today. "If we did, we wouldn't have passed it in April. But we don't want a lengthy, expensive court battle."

The plan was originally approved this past spring, with the FHSAA excluding football as it was the largest revenue generator for schools, then including cheerleading to avoid any violation of Title IX. Title IX, of the Education Amendments of 1972, states that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Tennis will return to an 18-match schedule, but abbreviated schedules will likely remain throughout the fall as many school districts established their schedules back in the spring of this year.

This year the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association voted to reduce most athletic schedules by 10 percent, exempting football, soccer, wrestling, swimming and diving. The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association also reduced schedules this year, exempting varsity football.






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