In The News

Successful basketball coach with 15-year-old drug conviction challenges NCAA’s ‘No felons’ rule

The Washington Post

23 Jan 2017

After pleading guilty in 2001 to possession of a small amount of crack cocaine, for which he served no jail time, former college basketball player Dominic Hardie turned his life around.  After earning his degree in social work, Hardie went on to make significant accomplishments to the field, including helping to launch a girls basketball program which sent 30 girls to college on scholarships.

But in 2012, the NCAA shut his coaching career down when it enacted a ban on anyone with a felony conviction participating in an NCAA-certified tournament.  Hardie is alleging the ban has a disparate impact on African Americans, and challenging it as a violation of the Civil Rights Act.  The case could make its way to the Supreme Court and establish new precedent for how a key part of the Civil Rights Act is enforced.

James Sigel, Hardie’s lead attorney, asserted that rules which have disparate impact are prohibited under Title II.  “It’s not justified,” Sigel said after the hearing, "to think that everybody who has ever suffered a felony conviction presents a risk to the children.  And Mr. Hardie is a perfect example of that, he’s a social worker, he’s been certified to work with children in Texas.  It requires a more nuanced calculation to determine if somebody presents a risk… We’re trying to get people like Mr. Hardie an opportunity that’s been denied to them based on overbroad categorization.”

Read the full article.



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