Local News

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

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.

Local News

Appeals Court Rejects Lifting Scholarship Cap for Student Athletes

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals says the 25 percent cap on private high school tuition that can be covered by merit-based scholarships will remain in place.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association sets regulations that all member high schools must comply with.  When this regulation was set in 2007, the cap was meant to prevent schools from buying students to play for their school, said Commissioner Julian Tackett. Several private schools were involved in writing the regulation, he said.

“They wrote it. It was a combination of extremely small schools such as St. Francis and Portland Christian and big schools like Trinity. They were all involved in looking at what was going on at the time and were very well aware of what they were doing,” said Tackett.

The court rejected claims from parents of four Louisville private school students. The parents argued that capping merit-based scholarships forces students to choose between participating in sports and seeking additional tuition assistance.

But the Court of Appeals disagreed. In the opinion Julia Smith Gibbons writes while the rules may not be perfect, the cap prevents schools from improperly recruiting athletes.

“They looked at what merit aid was being given throughout the state and made a rule based on what was going on,” said Tackett.

The parents argued that the rule affects students who earn scholarships for doing well in school. Tackett acknowledges there may be some exceptions, but said the regulation is fair.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Teddy Gordon says the parents want the case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A statement provided by media relations specialist Honi Marleen Goldman on behalf of Gordon said:

“The Court failed to recognize the religious freedom of these Roman Catholic and Christian students who want to participate in Kentucky high school sports without losing their badly needed tuition that was provided to them based on their academic abilities. We are hopeful the KHSAA will review the ruling and stop penalizing academic achievement and their continual acrimony against all parochial schools. “




Local News

Media Controversies Not New for UK

The University of Kentucky Athletic Department is again at odds with the school’s newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel.

A Kernel reporter called two walk-on basketball players to confirm they were joining the team. Afterward, he reportedly sought further comment, which UK officials say violates the school media guide. It says all requests for comments from players should go through the school’s public relations staff to prevent players from being bombarded by questions.

The reporter was subsequently banned from an interview session with players. The move prompted the Associated Press Sports Editors to say UK treated the reporter unfairly:

There is also the abridgment of basic First Amendment rights to decide access issues based on what the publication writes. This is a form of censorship, something institutions of higher learning should find as repulsive as the media do.

Ultimately, the decision to talk to the media rests with the athlete and if you don’t want your players to talk to the media without the SID office interceding then you have to get that message to the athletes. And, we believe you did as the athletes in question chose not to talk.

There has also been a surge in support for the reporter online.

DeWayne Peevy is the sports information director who banned the reporter. He has not returned WFPL’s request for comment, but told other outlets the move was a one-time event meant to punish a violation of the rules. He previously tweeted about banning a CBS sports correspondent from UK home games.

Last year, the athletic department asked newspaper staff not to distribute copies of the paper at football games.

Local News Next Louisville Politics

Parents Of Ballard Student Sue JCPS Over Athletic Policy

The parents of a Ballard High School student are suing Jefferson County Public Schools over the district’s refusal to allow the student to play sports at Ballard this year.

The tenth grader transferred to Ballard from Manual High School, where she had complained of being bullied.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association granted her an exemption to play softball and other sports at Ballard without the usual one-year waiting period for transfers.

However, according to the suit, JCPS would not grant its own waiver because it would violate district policy aimed at preventing school-to-school athlete recruitment.

Attorney Ted Gordon represents the girl’s parents, Steve and Jenny Martin. He says JCPS should abide by the state body’s ruling.

“They (KHSAA) looked at this case, they granted her an exemption, which doesn’t happen very often—without lawyers—this is from a hearing officer that happens quite frequently. I’ve had hearings there, usually they’re denied. In this particular case it was granted,” he said.

A JCPS spokesperson said the district would not comment on pending litigation.

(Pictured, from left: Steve Martin, attorney Ted Gordon, Jenny Martin)

State of Affairs

Youth Sports Safety

They teach teamwork, discipline, and coordination, and sports provide great exercise in a time when our kids are getting less and less of it. But sports can also lead to injuries – whether from incorrect form, lack of protective equipment, or just plain accidents. This Wednesday we’ll talk about youth sports safety and how parents and coaches can keep the pastimes their kids love as safe as possible.

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Local News

Coaches Prepare For Safety Course

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Lisa Autry.

Wednesday is the first day of fall practice for high school sports teams in Kentucky. Before the drills can start, coaches have to do some homework.

Under a law passed by the Kentucky General Assembly, high school coaches must complete an online safety course before they’re allowed to begin practice for any sport. The law is intended to avoid a repeat of last summer when a 15-year-old Louisville football player collapsed on the practice field and died days later from heat stroke. Elden May with the Kentucky High School Athletics Association says more than two-thousand coaches have completed the course.

“The number of KHSAA member schools who have had at least one person complete the course is 260, which is very encouraging because there are 279 schools that are members of our association,” he says.

The course covers topics such as head and neck injuries, as well as heat and cold-related illnesses. Under the law, at least one member of every coaching staff must complete the course and be present for all practices and games.