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The Michigan High School Athletic Association discriminates against girls by scheduling their athletic seasons out of sync with their collegiate counterparts, a federal judge ruled. In a ruling issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Enslen in Kalamazoo, Mich., wrote that he supported the claim of two Grand Rapids-area women. Enslen said the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s policies violate the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment, Title IX and Michigan civil rights law. Diane Madsen and Jaye Roberts-Eveland, in conjunction with their group, Communities for Equity, sued the association in 1998. Michigan is one of only a few states where high school girls play basketball in the fall and volleyball in the winter — the opposite of the seasons traditionally used by colleges and universities. The plaintiffs also wanted the seasons changed for girls’ golf, soccer, swimming and tennis. The suit alleged that the current schedule of sports seasons hurts schoolgirl athletes because it hamstrings college recruiters and limits news coverage. Boys’ high school sports in the state are played in the same seasons as their college counterparts. Attorneys for the state’s governing body for prep sports argued in court that the group’s 1,300 member schools, not the association, create the rules and set the sports seasons. They also presented defense witnesses who disputed the claim that the different schedule hampers recruiting or news coverage. Enslen, who heard testimony in the case from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4, ruled that the Michigan High School Athletic Association must bring its scheduling of girls’ sports seasons into compliance by the 2003-04 school year. Title IX is a 1972 federal statute that prohibits schools and colleges receiving federal financial aid from discriminating on the basis of gender. The MHSAA does not receive federal funds, but the court had ruled its role in school sports makes it subject to the requirements of Title IX. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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