Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in cases of Robert Adamek, Carol Adamek, his wife, Robert E. Adamek, by his parents, Robert and Carol Adamek; Anthony Theofilis, Angela Theofilis, his wife, Gary Theofilis, by his parents, Anthony and Angela Theofilis; Kier Ewing, Evelyn Ewing, his wife, Kevin Ewing, by his parents, Kier Ewing and Evelyn Ewing; Lucy Bruno, parent, and Carmen Bruno, by his parent, Lucy Bruno; Robert Phillips, Janet Phillips, his wife, Michael Phillips, by his parents, Robert and Janet Phillips; John E. Quint, Mary Catherine Quint, his wife, Patrick Quint, by his parents, John E. and Mary Catherine Quint; Bernard W. Flynn, Mary Ann Flynn, his wife, Thomas Flynn and John Flynn, by their parents, Bernard W. and Mary Ann Flynn v. Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Incorporated, a corporation, a/k/a P.I.A.A., No. GD 79-28320, and School District of Penn Hills, a body corporate v. Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, a corporation, No. GD 79-28664.
Rod J. Pera, with him William M. Young, Jr., McNees, Wallace & Nurick, for appellant.
John M. Tighe, with him Martin F. P. Vinci, III, Tarasi & Tighe, for appellees.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 262]
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Incorporated (PIAA) appeals from that portion of the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County enjoining PIAA from causing the School District of Penn Hills varsity football team to forfeit three football victories. We reverse in part and affirm in part.
Penn Hills School District (Penn Hills) reported to PIAA, a nonprofit membership corporation composed of public and private high schools, that it had used a player on its football team who was academically ineligible under PIAA rules. The ineligible player had participated in three football games but did not contribute in any effective manner to the victory of each game. PIAA, after hearing, ordered Penn Hills to forfeit these three games. The forfeiture would have the effect of eliminating the football team from playoff competition.
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 263]
Several of the students on the team and Penn Hills subsequently sued in the lower court, seeking to enjoin PIAA from enforcing its order. The lower court reversed the action of PIAA and allowed Penn Hills to participate in the playoffs but ordered Penn Hills to forfeit its right to the net proceeds earned in any postseason game. This appeal followed.
The threshold issue in this case is whether participation in a sports program is a property right which each student enjoys and, concomitantly, whether the restriction imposed by PIAA is a deprivation of those property rights in contravention of procedural due process.
While this precise question is a novel one for this Court, no fewer than thirty jurisdictions have previously addressed this issue. The overwhelming majority of these jurisdictions have rejected the notion that participation in athletics is a property right.*fn1
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 264]
We find the majority rationale more persuasive. Dallam v. Cumberland Valley School District, supra note 1, accurately ...