High School Sports

Injunction ordered against MSHSAA over local softball player’s college recruitment

A local high school softball player has been granted a temporary restraining order against the Missouri State High School Activities Association in order to attend a college recruiting camp without forfeiting her high school eligibility.

In court documents, Suzanne Vawter says her daughter, a resident of Jackson County identified by her initials, AMV, has been invited to a camp next week at the University of Texas.

But according to MSHSAA rules, student-athletes cannot attend a college tryout, audition or evaluation event while they are participating in the same sport for their high school.

Because the college softball season takes place in the spring, programs typically conduct their recruiting camps during their offseason in the fall.

Vawter filed a lawsuit against MSHSAA last month in federal court, claiming gender discrimination. In the suit, Vawter says because the Missouri high school softball season also runs in the fall, her daughter has been forced to choose between her college recruitment and her high school eligibility.

In most other cases, the MSHSAA sports schedule mirrors the college sports schedule. Kansas high school softball takes place in the spring.

“The Court finds (the) plaintiff has adequately alleged an irreparable injury of being forced to choose between continuing to play high school softball or pursuing college recruiting activities when male athletes are not required to make the same choice,” U.S. district judge Stephen R. Bough wrote in his ruling Thursday.

The temporary injunction will end in two weeks, “unless extended by motion showing good cause or agreement of the parties.” A jury trial is scheduled for July 10, 2017.

MSHSAA offers schools the option of competing in a spring softball season, which has included a championship series for the past three years, MSHSAA communications director Jason West said.

“There’s a constant dialogue with the member (schools) on any bylaw,” West said. “So from time to time, whether it be this specific bylaw or another, there’s constant discussion if we can make adjustments or improvements. Obviously, this may be one that is talked about a little bit going forward.”