Kansas Football Player Sues for Title IX Violation

C.J. MOORE
University Daily Kansan
University of Kansas

(U-WIRE) LAWRENCE, Kan. – Former University of Kansas football player Eric Butler’s bid to play another year of college football took two hits on Tuesday.

First, the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee denied the final appeal by the University to give the defensive lineman an extra year of eligibility.

Later, a judge in the U.S. District Court refused to award Butler an injunction that would allow him to continue practicing with the team while a pending lawsuit is resolved, according to officials in the Kansas Athletics Department.

Butler has sued the University and the NCAA in an effort to gain a sixth year of eligibility because of a pregnancy waiver that allows female athletes an extra year of eligibility if they become pregnant at some point during their college career.

After the birth of his daughter in October 2001, Butler took a year off from school before attending Avila University in 2003, where he played football. Butler is arguing that because he took a year off to care for his family, he should be allowed leave like a female athlete would have. By not giving Butler an extra year, he is arguing the NCAA is violating his Title IX rights.

Butler, who played all 12 games last season with the Jayhawks, started his eligibility clock in 2001 when he enrolled at DeVry in Kansas City, Mo. Athletes are allowed five years to play four seasons once they begin college. Butler’s fifth year ended after last season. However, Butler is arguing that he deserves an extra year.

The NCAA did not agree with that reasoning. Erik Christianson, director for public and media relations for the NCAA, would not comment beyond the NCAA’s previous statement on the issue.

“The pregnancy exception is explicitly written for female students whose physical condition due to pregnancy prevents their participation in intercollegiate athletics, and therefore is not applicable in this case,” the statement reads.

The athletic department first appealed the ruling to NCAA staff in June, and the NCAA denied the appeal. The final appeal was to the NCAA Reinstatement Committee. It told the athletic department Tuesday that the rule was written for female students only.

“We are disappointed in the NCAA committee’s decision,” Marchiony said. “We think the young man accepted responsibility as he should have and he’s a good kid trying to do the right thing. It’s unfortunate that he’s not going to get another year to play. We’d like to see that happen.”

The only chance Butler has now to continue his career is if he wins his lawsuit. When reached Wednesday by The University Daily Kansan, Butler’s attorney, Tarun Mehta, would not comment on whether they would continue with the lawsuit.

“We’re disappointed and respectively disagree with the ruling,” Mehta said of the refusal of an injunction.