High school basketball in Hancock County could be due for a makeover a few years down the road.
Franklin County High School recently agreed to increase the number of girls basketball games it will play in “prime time” over the next three years to match the boys total by 2016-17 after reaching a federal consent decree with a former girls basketball coach and nine of Franklin County’s opponents.
Prime time is defined as playing on Friday nights, Saturdays and the day before Thanksgiving.
Former Franklin County girls basketball coach Amber Parker filed suit in 2009 against the school and nine of its opponents because Parker’s team was not playing as many prime time games as Franklin County’s boys team. The decree was recently approved in an Indianapolis federal court, but only applies directly to the 10 schools in the suit.
A federal district court had granted summary judgment to the defendants — Franklin County and the other schools — but in February, the 7th U.S. Circuit reinstated Parker’s lawsuit that claimed the unequal scheduling violated Title IX of the Higher Education Act.
Title IX is a 1972 federal statute that prohibits gender discrimination by any institution that receives federal funding.
Attorney William Groth, who represented Parker in the case, believes the decree sets a legal precedent for the entire state.
“The 7th Circuit’s decision earlier this year sent a clear message not only to the lower federal courts but to all high school athletic directors that Title IX requires equality in all phases of high school athletics, including the scheduling of athletic contests,” Groth said to the Associated Press.
Bobby Cox, Commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, said, “The IHSAA does not mandate how member schools construct their athletic schedules. However, the organization does have a Gender Equity Position Statement in its by-laws.”