Although the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women no longer is active, its war with the NCAA continues in the courts.
The AIAW is charging it was forced out of business by the NCAA, which for 76 years has enjoyed a monopoly on governing intercollegiate sports. The AIAW is seeking treble damages because of what it claims is a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The defunct organization is asking that the NCAA be permanently enjoined from conducting, sponsoring or supporting national intercollegiate championship events for women. Also, that it not be permitted to publicly support these events or regulate them in any way.
The trial, now being heard in U.S. District Court in Washington by recently appointed Judge Thomas P. Jackson, has eight witnesses for each side. They have submitted written testimony and will be cross-examined. A decision is not expected until late next week.
The AIAW is contending it lost 20 percent of its members -- from 961 to 777 -- in its last year and an additional 14 percent did not participate in its championship events. It also is claiming financial damages because of loss of income through declining membership fees, championship events, commercial sponsorship, television rights and, of course, eventual destruction.
The complaint was filed Oct. 2, 1981, in U.S. District Court here and the NCAA denied all the charges.
In its defense, the NCAA is bringing out some heavyweights as witnesses, including Walter Byers, its executive director for the past 30 years; Ruth Berkey, the assistant executive director; John Toner, secretary-treasurer and director of athletics at the University of Connecticut, and Judith Holland, a former president of the AIAW who now is senior associate director of athletics at UCLA.
In 1971, the AIAW was formed to govern women's intercollegiate athletics and 278 schools joined the organization. Membership increased steadily, reaching 508 in three years and peaking at 970 in the 1979-80 school year.
Its philosophy was to increase opportunities for women to compete and to eliminate recruiting. Before its inception, opportunities for women to govern their own sports programs were virtually non-existent.
As the organization grew in size and reputation, it began flexing its financial muscle, negotiating its own television contract for its national championship basketball game. It increased from seven national championships in one division to 39 in 17 sports in three divisions.
By the 1978-79 school year, the AIAW was earning $123,698 in television revenue and $590,835 above expenses.
The NCAA, well aware of that financial growth, began expanding its own interests into women's sports. That action hardly was coincidental, the AIAW charges, calling it a calculated and thoroughly preplanned effort not only to destroy its economic base but to destroy the AIAW as well.
Once the NCAA was unsuccessful in bringing the AIAW into its fold, the suit charges--and must prove--it sought to destroy the AIAW by engaging in ruinous competition.
For example, in 1975, the NCAA began efforts to hold a national basketball championship for women. In 1979, it formed a special committee to investigate absorbing women's intercollegiate athletics. It went on to offer for free, without paying dues, women's programs to its members despite a cost to the organization of $2.5 million. It also offered cash reimbursements for travel expenses.
The NCAA Council announced in June 1980 that institutions having no men's varsity teams still would be eligible for membership. By January 1981 the NCAA had authorized 29 women's sports to start the following fall. It also scheduled championship tournaments in direct conflict with AIAW tournaments and expanded its tournament fields.
All of these alleged anticompetitive actions and the effect of the NCAA's recent expansion into women's athletics is the basis for the AIAW suit.