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William Stephan

Last modified: Thursday, April 11, 2002

Little 500 to move forward with all qualified teams

Indiana University announced today (April 11) that it will stand by last week's decision to reinstate the Major Taylor men's bicycle team for the 52nd running of the Little 500 bicycle race.

Little 500 races will take place as scheduled next Friday and Saturday (April 19-20) with all the teams that qualified on March 23. This year's races will raise money to create three new scholarships to memorialize victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks who have ties to IU.

The IU Student Foundation agreed to submit to binding arbitration to resolve the issue of Joshua Weir's eligibility to participate in the Little 500 race. Prior to the arbitration, IU Student Foundation had verbal confirmation from USA Cycling that Weir attained Category 1 status in December 2000, which made him ineligible to participate in the Little 500. However, written confirmation of the rider's status was not received until after the arbitration.

The arbitration panel decided that the IU Student Foundation had not acted with any improper motive in investigating Weir's eligibility, but that the evidence the Student Foundation was able to gather on his category status was insufficient to rule him ineligible. The arbitration panel has declined to reconsider the matter in light of the new evidence without the agreement of Team Major Taylor.

The panel released the following statement: "The arbitration panel met at the request of Chancellor Sharon Stephens Brehm on April 11, 2002. All three members of the arbitration panel understand that the panel's authority over the dispute ended when it issued its decision on April 4."

Both parties had agreed at the earlier arbitration hearing that the decision reached there would be final. Members of the arbitration panel today briefly discussed an April 4 letter from USA Cycling concerning the rider's status, but did not take any further action in the matter.

The IU Student Foundation will allow Weir to participate in the race, in light of its prior agreement to abide by the arbitrators' ruling and the university administration's decision to move forward. The IU Student Foundation hopes and expects that the 2002 Little 500 race will be a positive event for everyone involved and that the focus will remain on the scholarships that the race is intended to support.

IU President Myles Brand said, "I applaud the cooperative spirit shown by the IU Student Foundation in dealing with this matter. Difficult issues have been raised in this process, and I appreciate the foundation's efforts to find a solution."

William Stephan, IU vice president for public affairs and government relations, said that everyone is moving ahead as planned.

"The independent arbitration process has been completed," Stephan said. "We are now turning our attention to the race itself."

Chancellor Brehm said she is pleased that the process for examining these issues has been careful and deliberate. "The Little 500 is a great Bloomington tradition, and I am looking forward to another exciting weekend of student competition," she said.

The Little 500 is known as the premier intramural collegiate cycling event in the nation. It was created in 1950 by Howard S. Wilcox, then executive director of the IU Foundation, who was inspired by a bike race at an IU dormitory and by the Indianapolis 500. The men's race attracted international attention through the 1979 Academy Award-winning film Breaking Away, and more recently it has been featured in major publications such as Sports Illustrated and USA Today.

More than 20,000 people attend the men's and women's races every year, with the net proceeds used for working student scholarships at Indiana University. Since 1951, the IU Student Foundation has used the race and other student activities to raise money for student scholarships. It awards more than $40,000 annually in scholarships.