Balance Rule Upheld

June 29, 2018

Last week, a federal judge denied a motion for an injunction from St. Paul's Episcopal School's in Mobile, Ala., regarding a new competitive balance rule put in place in Alabama.

According to al.com, the competitive balance rule requires private schools with a certain level of success to move up a classification. St. Paul's is a Class 4A school in terms of enrollment, but has played in Class 5A since 2000 due to the Alabama High School Athletic Association's student-multiplier rule, and won five championships last year. Now it will compete in Class 6A.

Blair Fisher, St. Paul's Head of School, said the decision to challenge the rules had been motivated by a desire to focus on “the real issues affecting competitive balance in high school athletics,” but that they would abide by the decision.

"We are disappointed that our motion for injunctive relief was denied," Fisher said. "That said, we respect the process and the Court's decision, yet remain firm in our belief that these very real and pertinent concerns about the CBF had to be strongly and clearly voiced. It is our hope that this process has raised public awareness and ultimately leads to positive outcomes for all AHSAA schools."

Timothy Epstein, an attorney for Duggan Bertsch, LLC, criticized the ruling, and said it was not the best way to reduce private schools' advantages.

"Assuming for the sake of argument that artificially reducing the number of wins for private/non-boundaried schools, thereby increasing those for public/boundaried schools, is a legally laudable one (it is not), the main thrust of 'competitive balance' supporters is to attack a private/non-boundaried school's ability to 'recruit' from outside of their natural boundaries," Epstein said. "I have yet to see it articulated by a court that increasing anti-recruiting measures that actually target impermissible recruiting is the less restrictive means. That, I think, would be the correct move."

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