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Howard University, Excluded From Playoffs, Sues NCAA Over 'Racism'

November 26, 1987

Howard University has sued the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. and asked a federal judge to stop this weekend's Division I-AA football playoffs because its team, with a 9-1 record, was excluded.

The $9-million suit, which also names the Division I-AA selection committee, charges that the predominantly black school was denied a playoff bid "for unlawful and racially motivated reasons," even though it had a better record than any other team in the playoffs.

Howard asked for a temporary restraining order against this weekend's first-round games until the full case can be argued in court. A hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Howard President James Cheek said the suit is part of "an all-out war" on the NCAA. "One of the hallmarks of this institution is that it has fought and destroyed racism in every manner it has ever manifested itself," Cheek said.

Howard won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title but missed the playoffs by one spot when it was ranked 18th nationally among Division I-AA schools. Howard was allegedly ranked poorly because of a weak schedule that included four victories over teams below the I-AA level.

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