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Suspended Rowing Club Loses Federal Challenge

(CN) - A Sacramento State rowing club suspended for letting an alumnus and assistant coach compete cannot sue the university, a federal judge ruled.

As a Tier 1 club, the Sacramento State University's Men's Rowing Club is allowed to have only students participate in training and competition.

The club claimed, however, that it has been customary at the university to let rowing team alumni or coaches to occupy remaining seats when fewer than four or eight members of the current team are available to fill a boat.

During the club's traditional Holiday Row in December 2012, a rowing alumnus and the assistant coach rowed. Two days later, the interim assistant director of Intramural and Sports Clubs suspended the club for failing to comply with the Tier 1 club training and competition requirements.

The club responded with a federal lawsuit claiming that the suspension violated the due process rights of students because it did not follow Sacramento State's student conduct procedures.

California case law has determined that a student's participation in interscholastic athletics is generally not protected by the federal Constitution's due process guarantees. Courts have generally found that college athletes have no legitimate entitlement to participate.

In this case, U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. found that the rowing club could not establish a protected property interest that would entitle it to the due process protections of the 14th Amendment.

The club "fails to provide any relevant policies, regulations, or procedures that would limit in any way the discretion of defendant in disciplining student organizations such as plaintiff," England wrote.

Because the club already had the opportunity to amend its complaint to demonstrate that the university had mandatory procedures or policies that would create a property interest worthy of due process protection, England dismissed the suit with prejudice.

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