Quinnipiac University was in violation of Title IX by eliminating their volleyball team and introducing a competitive cheer team, U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill ruled Wednesday in his 95-page decision. Underhill said that a “competitive cheerleading team does not qualify as a varsity sport for the purposes of Title IX.”
Underhill ordered the university to issue a compliance plan within 60 days, and “that compliance plan shall provide for the continuation of the women’s volleyball team during the 2010-11 season.”
“Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX; today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students,” Underhill said.
Despite an increase in the number and proportion of competitive cheer competitions, as well as a the creation of a National Competitive Stunts and Tumbling Association (NCSTA) championship, Underhill said he was “not convinced” that competitive cheer can be included in Title IX statistics.
The ruling is in agreement with Jeff Webb, CEO of cheerleading organization Varsity Spirit, who testified during the case. Webb said competitive cheering is as much a sport as chess, the Associated Press reported in an article from ESPN.
“The University naturally is disappointed that the court has disallowed competitive cheer as a varsity sport,” said Lynn Bushnell, Quinnipiac’s vice president for public affairs. “We will continue to press for competitive cheer to become an officially recognized varsity sport in the future.”
Bushnell added that Quinnipiac “intends to add women’s rugby” as a varsity sport for the 2011-12 academic year.
Additionally, Underhill took issue with Quinnipiac varsity roster numbers. He pointed in particular to the fact that certain athletes were counted three times for cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track.
“The University is still continuing to deflate the size of its men’s rosters and inflate the size of its women’s rosters,” Underhill said.
– Read about how the volleyball team battled for an injunction, and a chance to play their full 2009-10 season, from September of 2009
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