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Justices reject lawsuit against federal officials

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court refused to consider
reinstating a lawsuit that accuses federal officials of
discriminating against male athletes in enforcing equal
opportunities for women.

Justices, without comment, rejected an appeal Monday from the
National Wrestling Coaches Association and other groups that have
been fighting federal policies under the anti-discrimination law
known as Title IX.

At issue for the court was whether the challengers showed that
the law directly caused a reduction in men's sports and whether
they should be allowed to sue federal officials.

The Supreme Court has indicated a special interest recently in
Title IX, the 1972 law that bars sex discrimination in any
educational program receiving federal funds.

In March, justices ruled 5-4 that a teacher or coach who claims
sexual discrimination on behalf of others is protected from firing
under the landmark law. That decision expands the scope of the law
to protect whistle-blowers as well as direct victims.

Then last month, the justices told a lower court to reconsider
whether Michigan high schools discriminated against female athletes
by scheduling their basketball and volleyball seasons during
nontraditional times of the year.

The latest case involved claims that the government is forcing
colleges to discriminate against male athletes because of a
requirement that the ratio of male and female athletes be similar
to the overall student population.

"If unchecked, the gender quota ... will continue to cause
sweeping injustices and discrimination in colleges nationwide, and
is already being applied to public high schools," justices were
told in a brief filed by the Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense
Fund.

Over the past two decades, the number of wrestling teams at NCAA
schools has dropped from 363 to 222 while football teams increased
from 497 to 619, according to NCAA leaders. Title IX has been
blamed for part of the decline.

In addition to men's wrestling team cuts, other schools have
dropped outdoor track, swimming programs and ice hockey, the court
was told.

A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit said the lawsuit should have been filed against
individual colleges that eliminated men's sports, not the federal
government.

Title IX covers admissions, recruitment, course offerings,
counseling, financial aid, student health and student housing as
well as athletics.