NIAA reaches deal in lawsuit

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Board of Control voted Wednesday to agree to terms of a settlement with the parent of a Green Valley High School student, bringing a momentary end to a Title IX case that began in April.

The board voted 7-1 in support of the settlement, which ensures the NIAA will recognize Class 4A girls soccer in Southern Nevada as a winter sport for 2008-09. The lone dissenting vote was cast by Larry Mason.

The situation beyond this school year remains fluid, though, and NIAA executive director Eddie Bonine said it “absolutely” could become a battle again.

“No relief on my behalf,” Bonine said of the settlement, on which he did not have a vote. “It’s gonna burn on me. The bottom line is that until there is a true state champion in soccer, I’m not resting.”

Eric Johnson, the father of Green Valley sophomore soccer and volleyball player Emma Johnson, originally sued the NIAA and Clark County School District in April in an attempt to block the move of girls soccer from winter to fall.

Such a move would have prevented Emma Johnson from playing both sports. Girls volleyball in Nevada is played during the fall, which is when girls soccer is played everywhere in the state except for Class 4A in Southern Nevada.

If girls soccer was moved to the fall, it would allow for a unified season and single state champion. However, the only 4A winter girls sports in Southern Nevada would be basketball and bowling — compared to basketball, bowling and wrestling for boys.

“It is hinged to the Clark County School District providing extra athletic opportunities to girls, particularly during the winter season,” said Paul Anderson, the NIAA’s attorney.

Eric Johnson, who serves separately as an assistant U.S. attorney, hopes the school district can make progress.

“The main thing is looking toward the future and working with the school district and the NIAA to ensure greater equality of sports opportunities for girls, now and in the years to come,” Eric Johnson said.

The school district has hired a Title IX consultant whose recommendations are expected in January, Bonine said.

Ray Mathis, executive director of athletics for the school district, could not be reached for comment.

Though Bonine is confident the CCSD could propose a new winter girls sport in the next nine months, he cited “timing, availability of facilities and the mighty dollar” as potential obstacles.

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