SAIN V. CEDAR RAPIDS COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT: PROVIDING SPECIAL PROTECTION FOR STUDENT-ATHLETES?
The scholarly article I chose was of great interest to me for several reasons. The case is an educational malpractice case in which a student-athlete said he was provided false information by his high school consolor and lost his basketball scholarship as a result. I was a student athlete in high school and sports are still a big part of my life. On top of that I am considering teaching and coaching after I graduate, making this a very relevant topic to me. In the next several paragraphs I am going to summarize the article and cases that it mentions, then I will try and decide what the authors intent was with writing this piece.
It has been said for years that any case of educational malpractice was doomed from the start. Because of this, it was a huge surprise when the Iowa Supreme Court denied the defendant, Cedar Rapids Community School District’s motion for summary judgement. This was a case where a student sued for negligent misrepresentation by a school guidance counselor. One reason why the court may have denied the motion was because it was trying to protect a category of people who were considered especially vulnerable, the student-athlete.
Bruce Sain who was the plaintiff in the case attended Jefferson High School, which was in the defendants school district. He played basketball for the school and was very good at it, so good that he planned on getting a scholarship to finance his college education. In order to be eligible to play sports in college you must meet certain course requirements be the NCAA, which Sain was working on doing. In his senior year he still needed three English credits to satisfy the NCAA requirements and since he went to a school that brock their year down into trimesters, he thought this would be no problem. He completed his first English course and enrolled into his second, but for some reason or another he disliked the class, so he went to his school counselor to see what he could do. The counselor told him to enroll into a class called technical Communications, which the counselor assured him would be approved by the NCAA clearinghouse.
But the school did not include that particular course on the list of classes that was sent to the clearinghouse. The next and final trimester Sain completed his third English credit and accepted a five year scholarship to Northern Illinois University. Soon after graduation the NCAA informed Sain that his Technical Communications course was not approved by the clearinghouse. As a result Sain lost his scholarship to Northern Illinois University and was unable to attend college or play Division I basketball for the 1996-1997 school year.
Sain went on to sue the school district for negligently failing to submit the course to the NCAA clearinghouse and for negligent misrepresentation. The district court dismissed both cases, but the Iowa Supreme court dismissed the negligence case, but reversed summary judgement on the negligent misrepresentation claim.
There have been many cases in the past that are almost identical to this one. Such as Brown v. Compton Unified School District, Jones v. Williams and Ross v. Crighton University. All which had a different outcome than Sain. Educational malpractice cases have been repeatedly rejected by American courts. Most of them because they would claim a school did not give them a proper education or they would dispute a teaching methodology. The United States constitution does not have any clause in it that states you must receive an education and does not state that an education is one of your basic rights. Classroom methodologies vary so widely that there is no way to tell what works and what doesn’t. Making these cases easy to rule upon, but with Sain it is different.
The article goes on to describe how student-athletes are a different type of person. In most cases the student is dependent solely upon the school, but with student athletes it is a give and take relationship with the school being the dominant party. The athlete generates huge amounts of profit for the school by playing for them and in return the school is supposed to give them an education. But so far student athletes have been unable to get away from being forced to choose between sports and school from there academic institutions. Now student athletes could argue that the perpetual denial of there cases is in direct violation of there right to due process, but student athletes are too few in numbers and don’t have the political backing as other organizations.
The only attempt Congress has made at protecting student athletes is Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, but these are way too vague to make a ruling on student athletes who are denied equal access to educational opportunities. Although it would be very hard for courts to set a standard for negligence for many reasons. One, the it was be almost impossible to do due to the vagueness of Title IX, second, courts would need an overwhelming reason to intervene and third, the courts would be reluctant to recognize a special relationship between a student athlete and an educational institute.
It is hard to tell how Sain v. Cedar Rapids Community School District will affect the relationship between student athletes and educators, but it will definitely change educational malpractice history. The Sain court went out of its way to show how the school district could be liable for their misrepresentation. But it is hard to tell exactly where this might go.
I thought this was a very good and informative article. The author did make it clear what his opinion on the matter was though. The author definitely believed that student-athletes needed special provisions to help them from getting abused by their athletic instructors. I on the other hand do not necessarily think they need special provisions made for them to be able to sue for negligence, but I do think that some laws should be passed to they aren’t abused the way that they have been for years now. All in all, I think this was a very good and informative. I had no clue that educational malpractice was thrown out of court in every case before Sain.
I do think that the author could have gone into more detail about how the courts are thinking about dealing with this new case and even how they dealt with previous cases. All he ever did was repeat over and over how the court system repeatedly dismissed cases that had to do with educational malpractice. Yes I do believe that this case will change the way these student athlete cases are looked at. This is the first time in centuries that a courts has even considered an educational malpractice case.
Who knows where all this is going to go, but I do know that, just as the author stated, this is going to change the way things are done in the arena of educational malpractice. For years courts will look at the results of this case to determine how they will rule on future cases. This one case could change everything we have ever known about the way educational malpractice is handled