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Friday, December 17, 2010

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues another awaited ruling

In Indiana High School Athletic Association v. Jasmine S. Watson, a case about which the ILB has had a long list of entries, the Court today issues this 20-page, 3-2 opinion, with Chief Justice Shepard writing for the majority:

Jasmine Watson transferred from Elkhart Memorial High School to South Bend Washington High School and sought an athletic transfer allowing her to participate on the basketball and track teams. The Indiana High School Athletic Association ('IHSAA") ruled her ineligible after determining she transferred for primarily athletic reasons.

Jasmine's mother sued on Jasmine's behalf and sought a preliminary injunction preventing the IHSAA from enforcing its ruling. The trial court held the IHSAA's decision was arbitrary and capricious, and it granted the injunction. We conclude the trial court improperly reweighed the evidence, and we therefore reverse. * * *

Sullivan, and David, JJ., concur.

Dickson, J., dissents with separate opinion in which Rucker, J., concurs. [that begins, at p. 17 of 20] The trial court in this case was convinced that the Indiana High School Athletic Association ("IHSAA") erroneously attempted to prohibit Jasmine Watson from participating in athletics during her senior year at South Bend Washington High School and that the IHSAA's decision was arbitrary and capricious. As a result Judge David Matsey, serving as a special judge brought in from outside St. Joseph County, enjoined enforcement of the IHSAA decision in a comprehensive, 47-page decision that included 151 detailed findings of fact and 26 conclusions of law. The Court of Appeals agreed and affirmed, emphasizing that there was "no evidence in the record whatsoever that Jasmine violated any IHSAA eligibility rules." Ind. High Sch. Athletic Ass'n, Inc. v. Watson, 913 N.E.2d 741, 757 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009). Undaunted, the IHSAA sought transfer to this Court. In the meantime, Jasmine completed her senior year at Washington High School and graduated. And after the Court of Appeals decision and the filing of the IHSAA's transfer petition, the Indiana General Assembly enacted legislation requiring that in the future such disputes be submitted to an independent, outside review panel with enhanced powers to reverse, modify, or affirm IHSAA rulings. The new legislation effectively removes from the IHSAA the ultimate interpretation and application of IHSAA rules affecting a student's athletic eligibility. Because Jasmine has graduated and the procedure for review of IHSAA decisions has been altered by statute for all future cases, this appeal is moot and thus should be dismissed.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 17, 2010 03:02 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions