MHSAA lawsuit goes to federal court

By Patsy R. Brumfield

Daily Journal

ABERDEEN – Efforts to stop limits on high school athletics participation were moved Thursday into U.S. District Court.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this week by 16 soccer players and their parents or guardians from Tupelo and Starkville, who asked the chancery court in Lee County to delay enforcement of a new rule adopted by the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

A chancery hearing was set for Tuesday in New Albany to air legal arguments about whether the organization can limit independent or select soccer team players’ participation on their high school teams.

That hearing is off because of the jurisdiction change.

The lawsuit insists the new MHSAA rule is unconstitutional and violates the players’ rights to equal treatment under the law.

The case is assigned to Senior District Judge Glen H. Davidson and Magistrate Judge David Sanders.

MHSAA describes itself as a nonprofit run by the state’s secondary schools to oversee academic and athletic competitions.

It wasn’t immediately clear why MHSAA moved the lawsuit from Lee County.

However, a defendant has the right to “remove” – the legal term – a state lawsuit to federal court if the case presents issues of federal law.

new rule

The old rule limited players from independent teams to a certain number of “starters,” instead of players, as the new rule states. High school sports observers said this rule was unenforceable.

Sports other than soccer are less affected because their select club play does not occur during their high school sports seasons.

Click video to hear audio