Select Page

Sports Law
Temple University School of Law
Duru, N. Jeremi

Regulating Interscholastic (High School) Athletics
I. Eligibility issues
A. Transfer Rules
1. Indiana High School Athletic Assn., Inc. v. Avant (Ind. App. 1995)
a. Facts
i. Avant transferred from a private school to a public school
ii. Both schools subject to IHSAA
iii. Transfer Rule’s primary purpose is to eliminate school jumping and recruitment – a student who transfers schools w/o parents moving will be ineligible for first year unless an exception applies (undue hardship rule)
iv. After hearing, Avant was held to be ineligible for varsity sports
v. A temporary restraining order was granted by trial court which allowed Avant to participate in varsity sports – court never identified claim upon which Avant was likely to succeed
b. Court first found that actions of IHSAA are reviewable – a student cannot be arbitrarily denied the opportunity to qualify to participate in sports
c. Whether IHSAA acted arbitrarily and capriciously
i. A argued that b/c he was not recruited, he should not be disqualified even though he technically violates the rule – he said transfer was motivated by financial hardship on parents (but this had always been present)
ii. IHSAA found athletics was not primary reason for transfer but was a factor
iii. A did not mention financial hardship in the transfer reports
iv. Motivation behind transfer was factual issue before IHSAA and court will not disrupt it if there is substantial evidence of probative value which the court found (deference to IHSAA by court)
d. The Court found no violation of EP clause in Indiana constitution
i. First, state was sufficiently involved so that state EP clause applies b/c this is treated as state action
ii. The transfer rule was designed to prevent school jumping and recruitment of student athletes – the rule was reasonably related to achieving this purpose
iii. The rule also applied equally to all persons similarly situated
e. Thus, trial court erred in enjoining IHSAA from rendering A ineligible
f. Notes
i. Common for courts to defer to decisions by athletic associations in this area
ii. Most courts recognize that sports are a “special case” and allow for certain restrictive rules to apply
B. Good Conduct Rules
1. Brands v. Sheldon Community School (N.D. Iowa 1987)
a. Facts
i. Student was a state championship wrestler who intended to attend college on a wrestling scholarship
ii. Based on immoral conduct (he and three other students engaged in sexual intercourse w/ girl), he was suspended from wrestling team for violation of disciplinary rule
iii. Superintendent affirmed the suspension which was affirmed by school board
iv. Student filed for a preliminary injunction and a TRO
b. Brands claims violation of 5 rights (EP, SDP, PDP, CUP, RtC) – court considers PDP and SDP claims
c. TRO standard: success on the merits, irreparable harm, public interest, and balance of the harm and injuries that will result to other parties – court determines that likelihood of success on the merits was too low
d. Procedural Due Process
i. First question: was there any liberty or property right that would be deprived? – need to look at nature of the interest at stake and not the weight
(a) Right to participate in sport
(i) Majority view is no right exists
(ii) If you are playing on a scholarship or a scholarship was awarded, then a property right may exist
(iii)How about here? Does not meet the standard b/c it is still in discretion of coaches whether scholarship will be offered – increasing chances of getting a scholarship only changes the weight of the interest and not the nature of the interest
ii. Second question: even if a property interest exists, was due process followed?
(a) Court says board followed procedural rules so no violation
iii. Boyd case
(a) Court recognized a property interest where Ps interest is something more than a desire to participate in a single season of sport
(b) Continued playing was important to Ps development educationally and economically in the future
e. Substantive Due Process – arbitrary and capricious standard
i. Under Bunger, a school board may hold student athletes to a higher standard for outside school behavior
ii. Immoral acts may be the underlying behavior that leads to disciplinary measures – therefore, board’s objectives are legitimate
iii. Discipline was not arbitrary and capricious b/c it goes to deterrence and board found that P’s acts injured another student and disrupted the school which is a legitimate school board concern
C. Age Rules
1. Tiffany v. Arizona Interscholastic Assn., Inc. (Ariz. Ct. App. 1986)
a. QP: Is there a constitutional right to participate in an interscholastic sport?
b. Tiffany is not allowed to play sports b/c of his age
i. Rule is if you turn 19 before September 1, you are ineligible to participate
ii. Rationale: do not want older bigger students playing against smaller younger students – mainly a safety issue
c. Exception to the rule
i. Board may at its discretion waive or modify any eligibility rule when (1) circumstances are beyond control of student or parent and (2) enforcement of the rule would work an undue hardship on the student
ii. Beyond control
(a) School conceded this point
(b) School teachers and administrators had determined that he needed to be held back because of learning disability – parents approved

really is not relevant to the constitutional propriety of random urinalysis
iii. Court finds more relevant intrusion to be negligible b/c it is limited
(a) Testing is only for drugs and nothing else
(b) Information is not revealed to police
(c) Only a few high level administrators will know the results
g. Court finds the school’s interest to be compelling (what is necessary to a particular search to be justified upon an expectation of privacy) and therefore the policy is reasonable and hence constitutional
h. Dissent – O’Connor
i. She believes the standard should be individualized reasonable suspicion and therefore the policy does not pass constitutional muster
ii. The real fight lies in whether this case is distinguishable from TLO – we do not know the TLO facts but clearly each side has taken a side on this issue
2. If you are a student and fight the school board, you are probably going to lose

Regulating Intercollegiate Athletics
I. Defining the Student-Athlete and University Relationship
A. Contractual and Related Aspects
1. Introduction
a. When a student goes to college to play a sport on scholarship, the school and student are bound by express contract
b. There are different types
i. Letter of intent
ii. Letter of financial support from school to student
iii. University publications
c. Documents are viewed as binding but things do not always go swimmingly
d. Courts have been reluctant to impose obligations on institutions apart from those expressly delineated in the contract documents
2. Taylor v. Wake Forest University (N.C. App. 1972)
a. Facts
i. Taylor went to WF on a football scholarship
ii. He struggled educationally his first year and refused to play football his sophomore year so he could focus on his education
iii. WF terminated his scholarship
iv. T sued to recover costs of education for junior and senior year
b. His claim rests on an oral agreement made by WF that if he accepted the scholarship and there was a conflict b/w education and athletics, education comes first to ensure reasonable academic progress; Taylor was to decide what is reasonable academic progress