American Sports Council files Title IX lawsuit opposing gender quotas for high school sports

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | Aug. 15, 2011, 9:43 a.m. (ET)
The American Sports Council and the Pacific Legal Foundation announced via a media-teleconference today that they have filed a lawsuit in federal court opposing the use of the "three-part test" for Title IX compliance on the high school level.

The case is known as American Sports Council vs. the U.S. Department of Education and was filed today in federal district court in Washington, D.C.

Eric Pearson, president of the American Sports Council, noted that there are 1.3 million more boys who participate in high school sports programs than girls. He said that the use of the proportionality prong of the three-part test would force high schools to eliminate boys rather than create opportunity for girls.

"Title IX forces high schools to comply with a gender quota. The 1.3 million additional boys are at risk of losing their athletic opportunity. We contend that Title IX's gender quota does not apply to high school sports" said Pearson.

Pearson noted how the use of the three-part test has caused college administrators to eliminate numerous men's varsity programs in a variety of sports. He believes it would cause devastating cuts on the high school level if used there.

"We are concerned that if high schools can't raise the number of female athletes that they will have to cut the number of male athletes" said Pearson.

Joshua Thompson, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, indicated that the current three-part test was created for use in college athletics only and were not written for use on the high school level.

"This test has no relevance to high school and high school sports" said Thompson. "We are filing this suit to ensure that Title IX is not misused or highjacked by special interest groups."

Thompson said that the three-part test legally can not be used in high schools, "and any application to high schools is unconstitutional."

The Pacific Legal Foundation has argued six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and has won five of those cases.

Included in the case is Dwight Johnson, a parent from Colorado Springs, Colo., who has been fighting for varsity recognition from the Colorado High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) for boys high school volleyball.

"My two boys both fell in love with volleyball. Because we don't have a state sanctioned volleyball program, they had to go into the club system" he said. "This lawsuit is not about boys vs. girls. It is about how the law was written in 1971. You can not discriminate based upon sex."

Johnson said that he and those involved in the lawsuit do not oppose Title IX, but are strongly opposed to the use of proportionality in its enforcement.

"We look at sports as part of well-rounded students, be them boys or girls. We are for Title IX. It is essential so both males and females can participate. We object to the interpretation of the law which has developed over the last 30 years" said Johnson.

Pearson previously served as president of the College Sports Council which focused on Title IX reform on the college level. He announced that the organization has changed its name to the American Sports Council, because "it better reflects the scope of our advocacy."