Tenn. school loses recruiting case

June 21, 2007 at 2:48 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 21 (UPI) -- A Tennessee private school lost a long legal battle Thursday against a high school athletic association over a recruiting letter sent to eighth graders.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sanctions imposed on Brentwood Academy by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association did not violate the free speech rights of the school and its officials.

The case involved a letter sent in 1997 by a coach who has since retired that invited some eighth-grade boys to attend spring football practice at Brentwood. This was its second hearing before the high court, which previously returned it to a lower court.

"Enforcing a rule that prohibits high school coaches from recruiting middle school athletes does not violate the First Amendment," Justice John Paul Stevens said in the majority opinion. "Brentwood made a voluntary decision to join TSSAA and to abide by its anti-recruiting rule. An athletic league's interest in enforcing its rules may warrant curtailing the speech of its voluntary participants."

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