WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- Cheerleading is not a real sport and universities can't use it to achieve gender balance in athletics to comply with Title IX regulations, a U.S. judge ruled.
The ruling came in the case of a Connecticut university planning to eliminate women's volleyball to save money. The school added a competitive cheer squad and counted its 30 members as athletes meeting Title IX gender-equality requirements, The Christian Science Monitor reported Friday.
Ruling in a class action suit brought on behalf of the volleyball athletes, U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill ruled the school discriminated "by failing to provide equal athletic participation opportunities for women."
Competitive cheerleading "is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation," he concluded.
The ruling sets an important precedent that will influence universities around the country, a legal analyst said
"We understand that in these difficult economic times … schools are looking for ways to tighten their budgets ... but this case sends a clear message that schools cannot cut costs on the backs of women," said Neena Chaudhry of the National Women's Law Center in Washington.