A federal judge heard closing arguments June 25 in a case brought by the ACLU on behalf of members of a women's volleyball program that Quinnipiac University seeks to replace with "competitive cheer". Cheerleading is not recognized as a sport by the NCAA or the federal Department of Education, the ACLU's pre-trial memorandum argues. A decision is expected in mid-July.
The plaintiffs, present or former members of the women's volleyball team and their coach, won a preliminary injunction last year blocking Quinnipiac from ending the program. This month's hearing before Judge Stefan Underhill in Bridgeport has been aimed at a permanent resolution.
Quinnipiac, the plaintiffs argue, discriminates on the basis of sex in operation of its varsity athletic program, in violation of Title IX of a 1972 federal law.
In ruling for the plaintiffs at the preliminary-injunction stage, the Court found that Quinnipiac had failed to offer athletic participation opportunities to male and female student athletes in substantially the same proportion as the gender composition of the undergraduate student body. The Court criticized the University's implementation of "roster management" to create the appearance of gender equity, while genuine participation opportunities remained inequitably allocated.
Competitive cheerleading, which the University proposed as a "varsity sport" to replace volleyball, the plaintiff's memo says, "lacks necessary characteristics of a genuine college sport, including but not limited to a sufficient number of participating schools to provide adequate competition, established rules, and a recognized and organized national governing body.
The plaintiffs also argue that Quinnipiac improperly triple-counts female athletes who participate in cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track.
The plaintiffs are represented, on behalf of the ACLU of Connecticut, by Jon B. Orleans and Alex V. Hernandez of Pullman & Comley LLC of Bridgeport.
Quinnipiac Pre-Trial Memos
6/25, New Haven Register: Quinnipiac volleyball lawsuit in hands of judge
6/24, SayCampusLife: Is Cheerleading a Varsity Sport?
6/23, New Haven Register: Plaintiffs rest in Quinnipiac volleyball lawsuit
6/21, Associated Press: Trial In Conn to find if cheerleading is sport
6/21, EZInArticles.com: Is Cheerleading a Sport?