At the University of Alabama, when the Nick Saban’s football team wins a BCS National Championship, everyone on the team including the water boys and the guy who combs Nick’s hair gets a National Championship ring. A big, honkin’ ring with diamonds and jewels that would make a pimp blush with envy. The kind of ring that most men would never even think about wearing otherwise.
Same goes for the men’s basketball team, baseball team, and the beer drinking team (assuming the Tide has one.) But what happens if the ‘Bama cheerleaders win a national championship? Sorry, no ring for you . . . at least not one the University is paying for. The guys and gals on the UA squad found that out the hard way this week after they won 2011 National Championship. The athletic department said “nice work, but we ain’t buying you anything to celebrate.” Why? Well, according to a 2010 federal court decision, U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill ruled that cheerleading was NOT considered a sport under Title IX. So, no sport, no ring. Here’s from the official statement from Alabama:
The University of Alabama congratulates our cheerleader squad on winning the UCA Cheerleading Competition. The athletics department typically awards rings to intercollegiate athletic teams. The rules, policies and guidelines governing the roles and activities of cheerleaders have been constant for the past several years and were in place before the squad participated in the UCA event.
How did the cheeleaders take this news? With the usual peppy cheerleader “can do” attitude? No, they are actually depressed about it, even though it sounds like they should not have had a reasonable expectation of getting anything to begin with. The school didn’t even let them compete last year (probably afraid it would have to buy them something if they won.)
A.J. Buckner, a four-year starter and the only senior on the team, said he was “pretty depressed” but not surprised when he heard Alabama would not buy the team national championship rings. Aside from that, Buckner said he feels worse about what he considers a lack of support from Alabama during his time on the cheerleading squad. “What upset me more than anything, it’s the amount of support the University has shown us,” Buckner said. “When we won [the championship], everybody went nuts. Everyone just wanted to congratulate us. Our university doesn’t understand how we represent the university. I don’t understand why the University doesn’t brag that we have another No. 1 team.”
Maybe Nick Saban and his staff can let the cheerleaders look at–but not touch–their rings? That just might make up for all of this.
UPDATE: We did find a website where you can buy an Authentic 2009 Alabama National Championship Players Ring for only $6500. Anyone want to chip in and buy a couple for the Tide cheerleaders? Anyone?
Cheer squad denied rings for titles (The Crimson White)