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The Sain Case

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SAIN V. CEDAR RAPIDS COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT: PROVIDING SPECIAL PROTECTION FOR STUDENT-ATHLETES?

The scholarly article I chose was of great interest to me for several reasons. The case is an educational malpractice case in which a student-athlete said he was provided false information by his high school consolor and lost his basketball scholarship as a result. I was a student athlete in high school and sports are still a big part of my life. On top of that I am considering teaching and coaching after I graduate, making this a very relevant topic to me. In the next several paragraphs I am going to summarize the article and cases that it mentions, then I will try and decide what the authors intent was with writing this piece.

It has been said for years that any case of educational malpractice was doomed from the start. Because of this, it was a huge surprise when the Iowa Supreme Court denied the defendant, Cedar Rapids Community School District's motion for summary judgement. This was a case where a student sued for negligent misrepresentation by a school guidance counselor. One reason why the court may have denied the motion was because it was trying to protect a category of people who were considered especially vulnerable, the student-athlete.

Bruce Sain who was the plaintiff in the case attended Jefferson High School, which was in the defendants school district. He played basketball for the school and was very good at it, so good that he planned on getting a scholarship to finance his college education. In order to be eligible to play sports in college you must meet certain course requirements be the NCAA, which Sain was working on doing. In his senior year he still needed three English credits to satisfy the NCAA requirements and since he went to a school that brock their year down into trimesters, he thought this would be no problem. He completed his first English course and enrolled into his second, but for some reason or another he disliked the class, so he went to his school counselor to see what he could do. The counselor told him to enroll into a class called technical Communications, which the counselor assured him would be approved by the NCAA clearinghouse.

But the school did not include that particular course on the list of classes that was sent to the clearinghouse. The next and final trimester Sain completed his third English credit and accepted a five year scholarship to Northern Illinois University. Soon after graduation the NCAA informed Sain that his Technical Communications course was not approved by the clearinghouse. As a result Sain lost his scholarship to Northern Illinois University and was unable to attend college or play Division I basketball for the 1996-1997 school year.

Sain went on to sue the school district for negligently failing to submit the course to the NCAA clearinghouse and for negligent misrepresentation. The district court dismissed both cases, but the Iowa Supreme court dismissed the negligence case, but reversed summary judgement on the negligent misrepresentation claim.

There have been many cases in the past that are almost identical to this one. Such as Brown v. Compton Unified School District, Jones v. Williams and Ross v. Crighton University. All which had a different outcome than Sain. Educational malpractice cases have been repeatedly rejected by American courts. Most of them because they would claim a school did not give them a proper education or they would dispute a teaching methodology. The United States constitution does not have any clause in it that states you must receive an education and does not state that an education is one of your basic rights. Classroom methodologies vary so widely that there is no way to tell what works and what doesn't. Making these cases easy to rule upon, but with Sain it is different.

The article goes on to describe how student-athletes are a different type of person. In most cases the student is dependent solely upon the school, but with student athletes it is a give and take relationship with the school being the dominant party. The athlete generates huge amounts of profit for the school by playing for them and in return the school is supposed to give them an education. But so far student athletes have been unable to get

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