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Hill v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn.

Supreme Court of California

January 28, 1994, Decided

No. S018180.


 [*8]  [**637]  [***838]    LUCAS, C. J.—The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sponsors and regulates intercollegiate athletic competition throughout the United States. Under the NCAA's drug testing program, randomly selected college student athletes competing in postseason championships and football bowl games are required to provide samples of their urine under closely monitored conditions. Urine samples are chemically analyzed for proscribed substances. Athletes testing "positive" are subject to disqualification.

 [*9]  Plaintiffs, who were student athletes attending Stanford University (Stanford) at the time of trial, sued the NCAA, contending its drug testing program violated their right to privacy [****3]  secured by article I, section 1 of the California Constitution. Stanford intervened in the suit and adopted plaintiffs' position. Finding the NCAA's program to be an invasion of plaintiffs' right to privacy, the superior court permanently enjoined its enforcement against plaintiffs and other Stanford athletes. The Court of Appeal upheld the injunction.

By its nature, sports competition demands highly disciplined physical activity conducted in accordance with a special set of social norms. Unlike the general population, student athletes undergo frequent physical examinations, reveal their bodily and medical conditions to coaches and trainers, and often dress and undress in same-sex locker rooms. In so doing, they normally and reasonably forgo a measure of their privacy in exchange for the personal and professional benefits of extracurricular athletics.

A student athlete's already diminished expectation of privacy is outweighed by the NCAA's legitimate regulatory objectives in conducting testing for proscribed drugs. As a sponsor and regulator of sporting events, the NCAA has self-evident interests in ensuring fair and vigorous competition, as well as protecting the health and safety [****4]  of student athletes. These interests justify a set of drug testing rules reasonably calculated to achieve drug-free athletic competition. The NCAA's rules contain elements designed to accomplish this purpose, including: (1) advance notice to athletes of testing procedures and written consent to testing; (2) random selection of athletes actually engaged in competition; (3) monitored collection of a sample of a selected athlete's urine in order to avoid substitution or contamination; and (4) chain of custody, limited disclosure, and other procedures designed to safeguard the confidentiality of the testing process and its outcome. As formulated, the NCAA's regulations do not offend the legitimate privacy interests of student athletes.

For these reasons, as more fully discussed below, the NCAA's drug testing program does not violate plaintiffs' state constitutional right to privacy. We will therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal and direct entry of final judgment in favor of the NCAA.

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7 Cal. 4th 1 *; 865 P.2d 633 **; 26 Cal. Rptr. 2d 834 ***; 1994 Cal. LEXIS 9 ****; 94 Cal. Daily Op. Service 681; 9 I.E.R. Cas. (BNA) 716; 94 Daily Journal DAR 1141


Prior History:  [****1]  Superior Court of Santa Clara County, No. 619209, Conrad Lee Rushing, Judge.

Disposition: The judgment of the Court of Appeal affirming the permanent injunction against the NCAA's drug testing program is reversed. This case is remanded with instructions to direct entry of a final judgment in favor of the NCAA. The NCAA shall recover its costs.


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