Is Competitive Cheerleading a Sport?

Guest author: Christian Dennie, Esq.

A court has ruled it is not. At least not for Title IX purposes. Yet.

The District Court found that competitive cheerleading is not a sport and the 30 roster positions could not be counted under Title IX because the activity did not “yet” afford participation opportunity of a varsity “sport.”  Further, the District Court observed the NCAA does not recognize competitive cheerleading as a “sport” or an “emerging sport.”  The District Court carefully analyzed the record and indicated competitive cheerleading is similar to a sport in some respects and different in others.  The District Court concluded that the following are similar to other sports: 1) team’s operating budget, benefits, services, and coaching staff were structured and administered by the Quinnipiac athletic department; 2) the length of the season and minimum number of competitions; 3) governed by an athletic organization (i.e., National Competitive Stunt and Tumbling Association); and 4) the purpose of the team was to compete athletically against other intercollegiate varsity level teams.

On the other hand, the District Court found the following differences: 1) Quinnipiac did not provide locker space for competitive cheerleading team members; 2) the team members did not receive NCAA catastrophic injury insurance because it is not an NCAA recognized sport; 3) Quinnipiac did not and could not conduct off-campus recruitment for its competitive cheerleading team; 4) there were no uniform set of rules applied to competitive cheerleading competitions; 5) Quinnipiac competed against a “motley assortment of competitors” including varsity intercollegiate cheerleading teams, collegiate club teams, high school age competitors, and all-star opponents; and 6) there was no progressive playoff system leading to a championship game.

In reviewing the totality of the circumstances, the District Court concluded that Quinnipiac’s competitive cheerleading team did not compete in circumstances indicative of varsity sports.  Thus, the District Court ruled and the Second Circuit affirmed that the 30 roster positions for competitive cheerleading members could not be counted for Title IX purposes because the activity did not “yet” afford women genuine participation opportunities in a varsity sport.

You can read the full details of the case here.

Photo credit: @QuackCave

Welcome to the Quack Cave

Guest author: Tyler Jamieson (BusinessofCollegeSports.com Intern)

Photo credit: @QuackCave

The Ducks are at it again.  You’ve most likely seen the flashy Nike uniforms and have probably heard about or seen the lavish facilities. Now the innovative minds at the University of Oregon have created the first digital media hub in college athletics, the Quack Cave.

What exactly is a digital media hub or Quack Cave?  For starters it’s a central room where Oregon can monitor and send out information via their social media accounts.  However, this is the Ducks and just any old media room wouldn’t do, so they went and made a command center that would make Bruce Wayne jealous.

Like any command center worth its salt this one comes with a top secret element to it.  Back in April Craig Pintens, UO Senior Associate Athletic Director, tweeted the following, “Are there any UO Interior Architecture majors that follow?  We have a top secret project for you. #GoDucks”.  UO grad students Miranda Lee and Anna Miron responded, and after a short couple months, some serious TV shopping, finding some cool iPads that double as remotes, and deciding which were the coolest wireless keyboards, the two grad students and the UO unveiled the Quack Cave.  Take a look here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–feHRLVycM

So why exactly do the Ducks think this was money well spent?  For starters UO boasts almost half a million social media followers, which is the 7th highest nationally.  This resource gives them the ability to communicate directly with everyone of those followers on a personal basis.  When people have questions, they will get answered.  When a celebrity watching a football games tweets something about the Ducks, it will get noticed and passed along for everyone to see.

Once again it looks like Oregon is ahead of the curve.  As college football fans, and society in general, become more reliant on technology and become more savvy, social media is going to become increasingly more important.  An idea like the Quack Cave is relevant because it’s such a smart way for a school to make its fans aware of its social media and then be able to use that medium to send them content while pushing their brand.

UC Riverside Looks to Foreign Investor for New Arena

Guest author: Tyler Jamieson (BusinessofCollegeSports.com Intern)

You’re the University of California, Riverside.  You made the leap to Division 1 just over a decade ago.  You’ve got a pretty cool mascot named “Scotty the Bear”.  You’ve tasted varying levels of success in men’s golf and baseball, and women’s basketball and soccer.  You had a pretty decent football team until 1975 when the program was discontinued due to low attendance and Title IX compliance.  You’re 60 miles away from the glitz and glam of L.A. and your basketball and volleyball teams play in the luxurious… Student Recreation Center.  In an age of iPads and high speed internet you’re rockin’ a Commodore 64.  So if you’re A.D. Brian Wickstrom how do you go about getting funding for a long over-due multi-purpose arena?  Apparently you go to China.

Allan Steele at The Press-Enterprise has an interesting look at how Wickstom had to “think outside the box” when coming up with a way to get funding for a badly needed arena.  Wickstrom knew there was no way in today’s financial climate he was going to get funding for an arena through more traditional ways, so at the advice from an architect he looked into the controversial federal program EB-5.  EB-5 is an employment based immigration program that allows potential would be immigrants the opportunity to obtain a green card for investing $500K or $1 million in a U.S. enterprise that creates or funds at least 10 jobs.

The goal of the program is to find new ways to pump money into businesses and areas that aren’t able to get loans, funding, etc. with investors being rewarded with a green card.  However, opponents of the fund say the foreign money coming in isn’t providing enough of an impact to call the fund useful and that in effect the U.S. is just selling what should be far more valuable green cards.

It sounds like Wickstrom is ready to test the merits of the program as his visit to China and several presentations at a conference designed to introduce American’s to potential investors there have him staring down the barrel of a potential $20-$30 million in committed funds.  Even if UC Riverside can get potentially $20-$30 million in EB-5 funds Wickstrom says there are still several hurdles to getting a new arena built, however they could use the money to get the arena started and get people excited about donating.

As an alumni or fan of a University what are your thoughts on schools securing foreign money for University projects?  Is this a case where Wickstrom came up with a potentially clever way to get funding for a smaller school that is having trouble funding the cost of a new arena, or would larger schools with bigger endowment programs and larger revenue streams consider using this method as well in order to keep costs down for donors?

NCAA Joins Professional Leagues In Lawsuit Seeking To Prevent Sports Betting In New Jersey

On Tuesday, the NCAA, NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey seeking declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the State of New Jersey’s “plan to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license and authorize gambling on amateur and professional sports.”  The lawsuit names New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie, the state’s Director of Gaming Endorsement and the Executive Director of the New Jersey Racing Commission as defendants.

On January 17, 2012, Governor Christie signed into law N.J.S.A. 5:12A-1, which according to the lawsuit, “purport[ed] to permit wagering at casinos and racetracks on the results of certain collegiate and professional sports or athletic events.”  According to the lawsuit, the act signed into law by Governor Christie violates federal law.  In particular, the plaintiffs assert that allowing gambling on amateur and professional sports in New Jersey violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, and contravenes the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.  The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act generally outlaws sports betting, save for certain exceptions, which the plaintiffs argue do not apply to New Jersey’s law.  Notably, those exceptions are:  that New Jersey conducted sports gambling activity prior to the law’s enaction in 1992, New Jersey authorized sports betting in a one-year period following the law’s 1992 enaction or the gambling relates to pari-mutuel animal racing and jai alai games.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit comes just three weeks before the public comment period for comments on proposed regulations concerning the licensure and operation of sports gambling in New Jersey expires.  The timing is notable, because according to the lawsuit, once the regulations are in place, New Jersey casinos and racetracks will be able to allow their patrons to gamble on sporting events.

Ultimately, the plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that New Jersey’s sports gambling law and its regulations violate Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in that the New Jersey law allows sports gambling in contradiction to the federal law.  Additionally, the plaintiffs seek an injunction preventing the implementation of New Jersey’s sports gambling law and regulations.  The plaintiffs are also seeking costs, attorney’s fees and other relief as the court finds appropriate.

The defendants will now have to file an answer in federal court responding to the allegations in the complaint.  Given the nature of this matter, one can expect that it will not be settled out of court.  Rather, those planning on placing bets in New Jersey during the football season will more than likely have to hold onto their money, as the legal process will likely drag out to determine whether New Jersey’s sports betting initiative violates federal law.

Is the NCAA Expanding into Canada?

According to the latest reports, Simon Fraser University, located in British Columbia, Canada may be the first full-fledged international member of the NCAA. After participating in the pilot-program for Canadian schools for the past several years, SFU is now the first university to come this close to full NCAA membership. If approved by the Division II President’s Council on August 9, SFU’s 17 sports could be competing in the NCAA within the month.

By becoming full members, SFU sports teams will be able to compete for regional and national titles and the school’s student-athletes will be eligible for athletic scholarships and all-America awards. This move will be used to pave the way for more international membership, both from Canadian and Mexican schools.

The only thing initially currently in between SFU and NCAA membership is accreditation status, as the NCAA currently requires that all member schools be accredited by a U.S. agency. At present, both the NCAA membership committee and its executive committee have voted to support a change in the constitutional language, which would allow SFU to become a member of the NCAA as long as it is actively seeking accreditation by one of the six accreditation programs in the U.S., and is in good standing in their own nations’s accreditation program.

An application for accreditation has been filed with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCUU). The NWCUU is an accrediting agency for the Northwest U.S. region – mainly Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.  Last fall, following the formal results from the NWCCU visit, Simon Fraser University had been cleared for Candidacy for Academic Accreditation status. This status indicates that the university has achieved initial recognition and is progressing towards accreditation. The process will be complete by 2017 at the earliest. Now, once the NCAA’s President Council approves the revised legislation, which it originally recommended, Simon Fraser University will be competing in the NCAA.

Simon Fraser has a history of playing against United States universities. From 1965-2001, it played in the small-college National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). However, when many of its opponents started leaving for the NCAA in the 1990s, SFU was left as an “unaffiliated” member of the NAIA. This then prompted Simon Fraser’s first attempt to join the NCAA, but it was turned down.

Consequently, Simon Fraser partially move to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Canada West conference to avoid the scheduling and logistical problems created for the teams competing in the NAIA. However, depending on the sport, SFU has either continued playing in the NAIA or moved to CIS. As a part of the NCAA, Simon Fraser has been competing in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) as a provisional member for the past two years. It has been eligible for GNAC championships for the past year. To better understand its progression from CIS to NCAA over the last few years, see this: NCAA Transition Timeline

In the GNAC, the distance between Simon Fraser and its furthest opponent, University of Alaska-Fairbanks is roughly 1400 miles, but the distance between Simon Fraser and its furthest opponent in Canada West, University of Manitoba, was only 1155 miles. In Football, the overall distance between SFU and its four opponents (Humboldt State, Western Oregon, Central Washington, Dixie State) is about 2040 miles, while in the Canada West, the overall distance between SFU and its four closest opponents out of the total six (UBC, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Saskatchewan), was 1678 miles. When you added the two remaining schools (University of Manitoba and University of Regina), the distance totaled about 3656. This distances were acquired by adding up the approximate distance between Simon Fraser and each individual university, as determined by http://www.distancefromto.net/.

This move to the NCAA, will allow greater exposure for SFU’s student-athletes, especially within the United States. The NCAA is regarded as a much more competitive conference than both the NAIA and CIS, and will allow SFU’s sports teams to elevate their play to a higher level.

What do you think of this move? Is it a good idea to expand NCAA membership north and south of the border — in similar fashion to the MLB, NHL, and NBA? Will Simon Fraser benefit from going back to its roots and competing against American schools once again? Leave us your comments below.