Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Plaintiffs Appeal Decisions in Cut Sports Cases

In two separate cases, plaintiffs challenging university decisions to cut athletic teams have appealed from initial rulings upholding the cuts.

The student who filed the complaint with OCR is challenging Ohio University's decision to cut four teams is filing an administrative appeal. OCR dismissed the complaint earlier this month, finding "insufficient evidence to support a decision of noncompliance." Department of Education procedure allows disappointed complainants to appeal such decisions to the director of OCR and again, if necessary, to the Secretary of Education. However, the complainant's burden is to explain precisely why the initial decision was wrongly decided, such as that it did not rely on all the evidence or that it misapplied the legal standard. Given my earlier assessment that OU's decision was unfortunate but clearly legal, and add to it the complainant's burden on appeal, I'll be very surprised if this appeal changes anything at OU.

In a separate matter, Equity in Athletics is appealing the recent district court decision denying its motion to preliminarily enjoin James Madison University from following through on its decision to cut ten teams last year. While EIA is seeking an expedited hearing from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, JMU has moved to stay all proceedings in the district court, where EIA's motion for a permanent injunction is pending. Here, too, I'll be surprised if the decision is reversed on appeal. The district court's analysis of EIA's likelihood of success on the merits was sound and consistent with existing caselaw. Also, the balancing of the harms was reasonable.

No comments: