Court Denies School's Reverse-Bias Appeal: Brown Says Sports Quotas Hurt Men

By Murray, Frank J. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 22, 1997 | Go to article overview
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Court Denies School's Reverse-Bias Appeal: Brown Says Sports Quotas Hurt Men


Murray, Frank J., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


The Supreme Court yesterday rejected Brown University's appeal from affirmative-action quotas on women's varsity sports that the Ivy League school says will deny "male athletes an equal opportunity to participate."

Although school officials told the court they could comply only by reducing men's varsity sports, they filed a compliance plan yesterday in District Court at Providence, R.I., that would balance things by capping men's team rosters and adding a women's light-weight-shell rowing team.

At the same time, justices ruled unanimously that a circuit court of appeals may not grant welfare mothers an individual prerogative to file civil-rights lawsuits against state officials who don't comply with federal commands to help collect child support.

An estimated 18 million custodial parents are eligible for Title IV-D help in collecting child support and could have been freed to sue if the lower court were upheld.

While the Supreme Court rejected federal arguments that the law bars all private civil-rights suits involving its terms, the decision shut the door on claims such as those filed by five Arizona mothers receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the opinion saying Congress explicitly blocked private standing to sue by creating "an enforcement scheme" and defining substantial compliance at 75 percent, excluding 25 percent of dependent women and children.

An expert on the legal implications of the college sports case said its effect would be felt not in moneymakers like football and basketball but such "non-revenue" sports as lacrosse, wrestling, swimming and baseball.

He forecast addititional rowing programs and widespread limits on how many may try out or make the team and said roster caps will eliminate opportunities for many non-scholarship students, so-called walk-ons.

"Rowing is going to become women's football," said the specialist who asked not to be named. "When women won't go out without scholarships, men can't go out."

Ivy League schools claim they give no athletic scholarships.

College sports officials hoped the Brown case might upset the trend of decisions favoring quotas for women in varsity sports. Judges in the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 7th and 10th circuits now agree and the Supreme Court three times passed up requests to review them by denying certiorari.

"Although denial of certiorari technically has no binding precedential value, it means something to Brown. They lost it all. It really has a very significant impact," said Providence, R.

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Court Denies School's Reverse-Bias Appeal: Brown Says Sports Quotas Hurt Men
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