Tuesday, October 03, 2000

Sports bias suit fails

Sports case turned down

By Laurie Asseo
The Associated Press

        WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused on Monday to revive a lawsuit that said Kentucky high schools discriminated against female athletes by not offering interscholastic fast-pitch softball.

        The court, without comment, turned down arguments by the students, who have since graduated, that they should be allowed to collect financial damages even without proof of intentional discrimination.

        The four former Louisville students were among 12 girls who sued the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and the state school board in 1992.

        The lawsuit said school officials' failure to sanction fast-pitch softball as an interscholastic sport violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans sex discrimination in schools that receive federal money.

Standard of evidence
               At the time, slow-pitch softball was the only form of the sport generally available to high school girls in Kentucky. During the mid-1990s state legislators voted to require any school offering slow-pitch softball to also include fast-pitch, and now most Kentucky schools offer fast-pitch softball for female athletes.

        The lawsuit sought financial damages for the loss of opportunities for the female students, but a federal judge ruled against them. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed last March, saying the students did not show the federal law's equal opportunity mandate had been violated.

        Even if they had shown such a violation, the appeals court said, the students also must show intentional discrimination before they could collect damages.

        Lawyers for the athletic association and school board said the students would be unable to meet either standard.


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