Wrestling coaches: Title IX flap not lost

Posted: June 07, 2005

Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider reinstating his organization's discrimination lawsuit, the head of the Lancaster County-based National Wrestling Coaches Association vowed that he would "never quit" in his efforts to overturn Title IX's proportionality provisions.

"We're teaming up with other coaches associations and we're going to continue to carry on the fight in the courts and on the field," said Mike Moyer, the association's executive director.

The NWCA, headquartered in Manheim, originally sued the Department of Education in 2002. It argued that proportionality - the policy that requires the percentage of female athletes at any school receiving federal money to reflect the percentage of female undergraduates - had precipitated the elimination of hundreds of men's teams at NCAA colleges. The suit was dismissed in U.S. District Court in Washington the following year.

"We hope the last word on this case has been spoken," Marcia D. Greenberger, copresident of the National Women's Law Center in Washington, said yesterday. "Title IX cannot be blamed for cuts to men's teams. It's high time the wrestlers stopped using this important law as a scapegoat for their own problems."

Moyer and others insist that while they oppose the manner in which Title IX is enforced, they support the intent of the landmark 1972 law.

According to NCAA statistics, there are one-third fewer wrestling teams than there were two decades ago. And in the last year, Moyer said, more than 130 NCAA men's teams had been eliminated as schools continue to struggle with the gender balance in their athletic programs.

The high court yesterday rejected without comment the appeal from the NWCA and other organizations.

"It's not an issue that just affects wrestling," Moyer said. "It's affecting men's track, men's swimming. There are only 20 men's gymnastics teams left in the country."

Moyer suggested the NWCA, which has since teamed up with the College Sports Council, a coalition of coaches groups, parents and alumni, might now direct its legal focus toward individual schools instead of the federal government.

That's what a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia had advised in 2004, when it rejected an earlier NWCA appeal.

"I'm not an attorney, but I know there are a variety of legal alternatives open to us," Moyer said. "I promise you this: We'll never quit."

Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 or ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com.

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