Judge William H. Steele has denied St. Paul’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s competitive balance rule

“Upon careful consideration of the parties’ arguments and exhibits, the Court concludes that preliminary injunctive relief is not appropriate at this time. A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy, for which a movant bears a heavy burden of persuasion. In this case, St. Paul’s has failed to demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.”

(6-27-18) A Federal Court judge has ruled in favor of the Alabama High School Athletic Association in a lawsuit over a competitive balance plan that start on time in the fall.

No word on what some private schools will now do next, last Friday almost half of those schools sent a letter of support to the AHSAA in light of the lawsuit.

Portions of the 41-page court ruling-

“It is not the role of this Court to decide whether the competitive balance rule is the wisest, fairest, best or most efficient way of advancing the objective of promoting competitive balance in interscholastic athletics,” the order stated. “Whether the Court thinks it is a good rule or a bad rule is irrelevant. This Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the Association.”

“With respect to the equal protection claim, St. Paul’s has made an insufficient showing that the Association was motivated by ‘bare animus’ against private schools; therefore, the challenged classification must be evaluated using deferential rational-basis review,” the order stated. “Under this standard, the competitive balance rule is presumed constitutional, and must be upheld if any reasonably conceivable set of facts could provide a rational basis for it, even if the rule seems unwise and even though it works to a particular group’s disadvantage. The AHSAA has a legitimate interest in promoting competitive balance for its members.”

“A courtroom is rarely the proper field for competition when it comes to disputes over high-school athletic rules,” the ruling stated. “Alabama courts take a hands-off approach to controversies concerning regulation of high school athletics, at least in the absence of clear and convincing evidence of fraud, collusion, bias or arbitrariness. It does not appear substantially likely that any of those factors are present here.”

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