Heyl Royster


Heyl Royster



Northern District Rules in Favor of the IHSA


On July 13, the Honorable John J. Tharp Jr., District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, issued a ruling in favor of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) based on the IHSA’s motion for summary judgment. The ruling pertained to a lawsuit filed by the father of a high school student (“A.H.”) that sought the implementation of new qualifying times for para-ambulatory athletes for the IHSA Track & Field State Finals, as well as a para-ambulatory division in the IHSA’s 5K Road Race.

In a written opinion, Judge Tharp rejected the argument that IHSA discriminated against A.H. in violation of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The court also held that plaintiff failed to state a claim under the Equal Protection Clause because, as the opinion states, the IHSA had a rational basis for denying A.H.’s requested accommodations.

“IHSA is not required, by statute or the Constitution, to lower the qualifying standards for the athletic competitions it sponsors,” Judge Tharp wrote.

IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said, “I believe that the IHSA’s track record speaks for itself in regard to creating additional opportunities for all student-athletes. It remains important that we be able to follow the rules set forth in our Constitution when making changes. We appreciate that Judge Tharp’s thoughtful ruling provides us that latitude.”

Matt Hefflefinger was lead counsel for IHSA, with assistance from Tyler Pratt. Plaintiff has filed a notice of appeal.