Cheerleaders have nothing to cheer about when it comes to a federal judge’s July ruling.
U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill ruled that cheerleading is not a sport that universities can use to comply with Title IX, which is a 1972 law that mandates colleges provide equal opportunities for men and women in athletics and other areas.
The ruling stemmed from a federal case involving Quinnipiac University’s decision to eliminate women’s volleyball for budgetary reasons and replace it with cheerleading. The university made the swap in an attempt to satisfy Title IX.
NSU law professor Steve Wisotsky said that Quinnipiac’s decision was unusual.
“Many universities have done what’s necessary to shut down a men’s program in order to shift resources into women’s teams,” he said. “Cheerleading has an athletic quality to it, but it doesn’t necessarily meet the legal definition of team sport.”
Toni Kuzmicki, junior English major and NSU cheerleader, disagrees. She said that the cheerleading team practices, does strength conditioning, follows rules, and competes just like any other sport.
“I know about a lot of sports,” she said. “And to me, cheerleading is just as much a sport.”
Head Cheerleading Coach Emilee Ebrill also disagrees. She said that while some people do not think cheerleading is a sport, anyone who has watched a cheerleading competition would have trouble arguing that point.
“It’s highly athletic,” she said. “Cheerleaders want to be respected. They think that the only way to get that is to call it a sport.”
Brittany Monico, junior elementary education major and cheerleader says cheerleading is hard work.
“I am exhausted after practice,” she said. “I have just as many bumps and bruises as a football player.”
Since cheerleading is not an NCAA sport, at other universities, it is managed by student affairs and treated like a club.
However, at NSU, all aspects of the cheerleading team are managed under the university’s athletic depart-ment, including its budget and coach.
Michael Mominey, NSU ath-letic director said that NSU fully recognizes cheerleading as a sport. He said cheerleaders are often the faces of the athletic department.
“The cheerleaders do so much on campus,” he said. “They are critical not only to the department, but to the university.”
Kuzmicki said that NSU is supportive of the cheerleading team and treats its members the same as other teams.
“They fund us just as equally as they do any sport,” she said. “The other players come over when we have events. We respect each other.”