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NCAA v. Smith

Supreme Court of the United States

January 20, 1999, Argued ; February 23, 1999, Decided

No. 98-84


 [*462]  [***934]  [**926]    JUSTICE GINSBURG delivered the Opinion of the Court.

 This case concerns the amenability of the National [****7]  Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA or Association) to a private action under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The NCAA is an unincorporated association of approximately 1,200 members, including virtually all public and private universities and 4-year colleges conducting major athletic programs in the United States; the Association serves to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of its members' educational programs. Title IX proscribes sex discrimination in "any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a).

The complainant in this case, Renee M. Smith, sued the NCAA under Title IX alleging that the Association discriminated against her on the basis of her sex by denying her permission to play intercollegiate volleyball at federally assisted institutions. Reversing the District Court's refusal to allow Smith to amend her pro se complaint, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the NCAA's receipt of dues from federally funded member institutions would suffice to bring the Association within the scope of Title IX. We reject that determination as inconsistent with the governing statute, regulation,  [****8]  and Court decisions. Dues payments from recipients of federal funds, we hold, do not suffice to render the dues recipient subject to Title IX. We do not address alternative grounds, urged by respondent and the United States as amicus curiae, in support of Title IX's application to the NCAA in this litigation, and leave resolution of those grounds to the courts below on remand.

] Rules adopted by the NCAA govern the intercollegiate athletics programs of its member colleges and universities; "by joining the NCAA, each member agrees to abide by  [*463]  and enforce [the Association's] rules." National Collegiate Athletic Assn. v. Tarkanian, 488 U.S. 179, 183, 102 L. Ed. 2d 469, 109 S. Ct. 454 (1988); see 1993-1994 NCAA  [**927]  Manual, NCAA Const., Arts. 1.2(h), 1.3.2, p. 1. Among these rules is the Postbaccalaureate Bylaw, which allows a postgraduate student-athlete to participate in intercollegiate athletics only at the institution that awarded her undergraduate degree. See 1993-94 NCAA Manual, Bylaw, at 123. 1 

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525 U.S. 459 *; 119 S. Ct. 924 **; 142 L. Ed. 2d 929 ***; 1999 U.S. LEXIS 1511 ****; 67 U.S.L.W. 4130; 99 Cal. Daily Op. Service 1345; 99 Daily Journal DAR 1669; 1999 Colo. J. C.A.R. 878; 12 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 110


Subsequent History: As Amended: November 9, 1999.


Disposition: 139 F.3d 180, vacated and remanded.


recipient, athletics, federal financial assistance, entity, federal funds, receives, intercollegiate, court of appeals, Veterans, benefits, enrolled, federal assistance, education program, sex, federally funded, Postbaccalaureate, student-athlete, regulation, funding

Administrative Law, Agency Rulemaking, Formal Rulemaking, Education Law, Intercollegiate & Interscholastic Athletics, Athletic Associations, General Overview, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Federally Assisted Programs, Federal Assistance, Gender & Sex Discrimination, Title IX, Protected Individuals, Scope, Constitutional Law, Equal Protection, Gender & Sex, Departments of Education, US Department of Education, US Department of Education Authority, Scope of Title IX, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review