(Brookville, Ind.) - A lawsuit over the scheduling of girls high school basketball games in southeast Indiana has been settled with the result of more girls games to be played on weekends.
Franklin County Community Schools was a defendant along with other area school districts – including all members of the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference – when former Franklin County High School girls basketball coach Amber Parker filed a Title IX lawsuit three years ago in U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana.
In the litigation, Parker accused Franklin County and the schools it put on its basketball schedule of violating the anti-discrimination law by scheduling more girls basketball games on school nights, as opposed to boys games usually played on Friday and Saturday nights.
“Girls play 53 percent of their games on primetime nights while boys play 95 percent of their games on primetime nights,” Parker claimed in the suit.
An identical lawsuit was filed by Tammy Hurley when Parker lost her job as a teacher and coach at Franklin County and moved to Massachusetts. Parker and Hurley each filed the suit on behalf of their daughters, both of whom played on the Lady Wildcats team. The lawsuits were eventually combined.
The district court had ruled in favor of the defendants in January, but the decision was appealed to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The higher court vacated the district court’s decision in February and remanded the case back to the district court.
“Non-primetime games result in a loss of audience, conflict with homework, and foster feelings of inferiority,” Judge John D. Tinder wrote in the appeals court’s decision.
In a consent decree filed Monday in district court, Franklin County Schools say they will gradually begin scheduling more girls games on non-school nights. Two more girls games will be scheduled in prime time during the 2013-14 season than were scheduled in 2011-2012, with four more in 2014-15, six more in 2015-16, and no more than a two game differential during and beyond the 2016-17 season.
Judges allowed that the games can be scheduled on Saturday afternoons.
Each of the schools named as defendants will report annually to the district court and Parker and Hurley’s attorneys their next year’s boys and girls varsity basketball schedules, with the first report due May 13, 2013. The final report will be submitted in 2017.
However, scheduling boys and girls games in accordance with the consent decree may not prove easy. Franklin County High School athletic director Beth Foster told the court she had tried schedule more girls games on weekends.
“But athletic directors in the EIAC have refused. Foster was met with resistance from the other school athletic directors in the EIAC when she attempted to address gender equity. She even tried to get double headers on Friday nights, but three of the athletic directors wouldn’t agree,” the appeals court ruling read.
The Indiana High School Athletic Association was originally included in the lawsuit, but was later dropped because the organization has no role in scheduling regular season games between schools.