Just asking: Rehashing Scott Frost’s shot, why cheering/dancing isn’t an NCAA sport

Just asking: Rehashing Scott Frost's shot, why cheering/dancing isn't an NCAA sport

Welcome to the Lincoln Journal Star’s Just Askin’ Mailbag.

The premise is clear. Ask me some questions, I try to answer them. It doesn’t have to be just football. It could be volleyball, basketball, softball, baseball – just to name a few.

If you’d like your question included in next week’s edition of the Mail Pack, you can find me on Twitter at @Amie_Just or email ajust@journalstar.com.

Common themes this week for all of you following the firing of Scott Frost.

Here are some of the questions asked…

Why fire Scott Frost now? – Several

It is complicated. Yes, Frost’s buyout would have been cut in half if Nebraska had waited until Oct. 1 to fire him, but Trev Alberts felt the situation needed to be fixed as soon as possible.

Asked why now, Alberts said: “We owed it to the players to give them a different voice, maybe a little bit of a different vision, to give them a bit of confidence and an opportunity. … We should have done something. We had to inject something into this team to give them confidence and hopefully help them compete.”

What’s done is done. Here’s to looking forward.

What’s going on with Scott Frost’s suspension? – Sean B.

Frost has yet to serve his five-day suspension after he was found to have violated NCAA rules for a number of coaches, but that remains Frost’s case — not the university’s. So whenever he appears elsewhere, then he will have to abide by the NCAA ruling (unless his new program successfully appeals).

When are Nick Henrich and Travis Vokolek coming back? – Several

We asked Frost last week and they remained “day-to-day,” and the same refrain continued during Joseph’s Tuesday press conference.

As a reminder, Henrich is dealing with a hand/arm injury, and Vokolek’s illness is related to the ankle joint. Both injuries were sustained against Northwestern and have not played since.

Why doesn’t cheerleading/spirit team count as a sport in Nebraska? – Several

For those not involved in the Twittersphere, I tweeted over the weekend that Mickey Joseph is the first black head coach in Nebraska history, regardless of sport.

That framing angered many people within the cheer, dance and spirit community, who felt I was erasing the accomplishments of Erynn Butzke, who has been Nebraska’s head coach since 2011.

I should have typed “regardless of NCAA sanctioned sport” but I didn’t. That’s what I meant, though. I just wanted to celebrate Joseph’s success. I didn’t want to do it while belittling someone else.

I wholeheartedly believe that cheerleading and dancing are sports. That is not what is being discussed here. The problem is how the NCAA defines team sports.

Although spirit teams at several universities receive the typical perks that athletes on any other team would receive, cheer and dance are not considered NCAA-sanctioned sports. This is because of federal laws, including Title IX.

In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled that universities cannot count cheerleading as a sport when trying to meet Title IX requirements. The premise at the heart of the case was how Quinnipiac University tried to eliminate its women’s volleyball program in an attempt to add competitive cheerleading in its place. The court ruled that competitive cheerleading does not meet Title IX’s definition of a varsity sport.

The decision reads, in part: “We acknowledge the record evidence showing that competitive cheerleading can be physically challenging, requiring competitors to possess ‘strength, agility and grace.’ Similarly, we do not rule out the possibility that the activity, with better organization, does not rule out. and defined rules, could one day justify recognition as a university sport. But, like the district court, we conclude that the record evidence shows that “that time has not yet come.””

Under Title IX definitions, activities can be considered sports if they have coaches, practices, and competitions during designated seasons with a governing organization. Additionally, competition must be the primary goal of said activity, not support for other teams.

The communal aspect of some spirit squads across the country also acts as a barrier, as the NCAA has traditionally viewed sports in binary terms: male or female. Not both.

It’s not for lack of effort though.

In 2014, a women’s competitive cheer sport called STUNT applied to the NCAA to be considered an “emerging sport.” The NCAA rejected it at the time, but it’s back on the agenda for January 2023. This time around, STUNT appears to have a better chance this time around, as the NCAA Division I, Division II and Division III councils have previously passed the bill by member vote.

Other sports that appeared through the new sports program remained at Nebraska, such as bowling and beach volleyball.

That was an incredibly long answer, but currently cheer/dancing does not count as an NCAA sanctioned sport at Nebraska. Maybe one day.

With all that said, the legal definition should not negate all that Butzke brought to the table for Nebraska’s spiritual squads. But the pesky “NCAA-sanctioned” part unfortunately keeps her accomplishments out of the spotlight as it relates to Nebraska’s recognized varsity sports.

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