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Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972


"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

At issue is not the Title IX statute itself. The problem is the way in which Title IX has been applied. The Department of Education's policy of compliance through proportional participation (a quota) is the crux of the problem. The government (the Office of Civil Rights within the Department of Education) claims that the only 'safe-harbor' for schools is demonstrating compliance with the proportionality prong of the three-part test by:

"Showing that intercollegiate participation opportunities for male and female students are provided in numbers substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments."

Females now account for approximately 56% of the total college enrollment; males are 44%. In order for schools to approach meeting that ratio of female to male athletes, administrators have been forced to: 1) eliminate men's teams entirely, and 2) cap the rosters of men's teams. Schools have been forced to intentionally discriminate against male athletes. As a consequence, the average number of male athletes on each NCAA campus has dropped, from a high of 253.54 in 1985 to the low of 199.11 in 2001.

In January, 2002 The National Wrestling Coaches Association and the College Sports Council launched a lawsuit against the Department of Education challenging the three-part test. The lawsuit does not challenge Title IX, but rather the proportionality prong of the enforcement regulations. The CSC is looking for the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to change these regulations so that schools will be required to provide student-athletes of both genders with equal athletic opportunity based on interest.

The Bush Administration has appointed Gerald Reynolds to replace Norma Cantu as the head the OCR, but this appointment has not yet been confirmed by the Senate. In the meantime, the President and DOE Secretary Rod Paige have appointed a 15 person 'Commission on Opportunity in Athletics' to "collect information, analyze issues and obtain broad public input directed at improving the application of current Federal standards for measuring equal opportunity" under Title IX. The Commission is conducting four public 'town hall meetings' in Atlanta, Chicago, Colorado Springs and San Diego to solicit input. The Commission's report of recommendations to the DOE and the President is scheduled for January, 2003.

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