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JUDGE DISMISSES SWIMMERS’ SUIT -- March 17, 2000

By Phillip Whitten

March 16. HONOLULU. U.S. First Circuit judge Gail Nakatani dismissed a motion for breach of contract brought in behalf of eleven University of Hawaii swimmers against the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The judge denied the original motion for a temporary restraining order against the NCAA two days ago. The TRO would have enjoined the NCAA from holding its national collegiate swimming championships because the Hawaii swimmers had been unfairly disinvited from the meet. The judge ruled that because the NCAA is a private organization, there was no constitutional obligation for it to be treated as a governmental agency would be treated.
An amended motion was filed under contract law, demanding that the students be treated fairly. It, too, was denied, the judge being reluctant to extend contract law to athletes.
Larry Kawasaki, assistant attorney for the students commented: “We were surprised by judge Nakatani’s decision today. There were issues of equity—promises were made on both side—the NCAA’s and the students’—but those promises were fulfilled by only one side (the students’).”
The swimmers, some of whom are potential Olympians, still may pursue individual suits against the NCAA, charging that their careers have been damaged.