Attorney Challenges Language Regulating Merit-Based Pay in High School Sports

by Devin Katayama on March 19, 2012

A Louisville attorney is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether language in the Kentucky High School Athletics Association’s bylaws violates the First Amendment.

Currently, no schools can offer student athletes more than 25 percent of tuition in merit-based scholarships. The rule called Title 13 is meant to prevent schools from paying students to play sports. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the bylaw saying the cap prevents schools from improperly recruiting athletes.

As written, the bylaws say the cap applies to public, private and Roman Catholic schools. Attorney Teddy Gordon says the specific mention of Catholic institutions makes the rules discriminatory. But, when asked, Gordon admits the chances of the Supreme Court hearing the case are slim.

“It’s a major issue on the freedom of religion and they don’t see many cases. That’s why I do have optimism. In the Supreme Court of the United States they get about a thousand writs a year, and they accept about 75 to 80,” he said.

Kentucky High School Athletics Association commissioner Julian Tackett said private schools helped put the cap in place and the cap applies to private and public schools regulated by the association.

 

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