9 Title IX Facts Every Athlete Should Know
Created in 1972 as a way of providing equal opportunities for education and athletics regardless of gender, Title IX has gotten a lot of attention in recent years — both positive and negative — from teachers, students, administrators and parents. While most people probably have an opinion one way or another, many may not know the facts behind the act, nor really understand how it is applied to colleges and secondary schools. Many, even the student athletes whom it directly affects, may be quite surprised to learn more than a few of the facts we've collected here. Some may have to reconsider just how they look at what it's really doing to nurture equality in the higher education system.
While Title IX has helped women gain access to a wide range of athletic programs and scholarships, there are still many schools out there who don't abide — or try to skirt some of its policies. Perhaps more distressing is that schools violating Title IX often face little or no legal action. Investigations are often drug out over years, and rarely result in any kind of meaningful penalties. One investigation at USC has gone on for over 12 years now, with no sign of resolution in sight. Even more troubling? Investigations are often conducted by the schools themselves, giving them little to no incentive to report any problems they do find. Though to be fair, some are quite willing to fix issues if they are pointed out.
Since 1972, when Title IX was enacted, not a single case of discrimination against female (or male) athletes was referred to the justice department for further investigation or repercussions. Not one. That doesn't mean that there has been no discrimination — between 2002 and 2006 alone, there were 416 complaints filed with the Office for Civil Rights — just that there are few (if any) cases where schools have been forced into compliance. This brings into question its effectiveness at providing equality.
Many who argue against Title IX claim that women are simply less interested in sports than their male counterparts. Since the act went into effect in 1972, female participation in college-level sports has increased 403%. Today, 43% of college athletes are women, and many more say they would participate if their schools offered programs in their sport of choice.
For every new dollar going into college athletics at the Division I and II levels of college athletics, male sports receive 65 cents. Female sports receive 35 cents
Just as women only make 77 cents for every dollar men do, their sports haven't attained equal funding, either. Women's sports programs at Division I and II schools are given almost half of what men's programs are. This means half the money for facilities, programs, recruitment and scholarships. With women making up 56% of all undergrads in college and 43% of athletes, that's a pretty startling discrepancy.
While 53% of the students at Division I schools are women, female athletes in Division I receive just 32% of the funds to recruit new athletes, 37% of total athletics expenditures, 45% of total athletic scholarships and 44% of the opportunities to play intercollegiate sports. While that's far better than in 1972, it still doesn't adequately support many of the athletic programs underrepresented students are interested in. Big ticket sports like basketball and football still dominate the majority of resources in nearly every college athletics department — to the detriment of both female and male sports.
Title IX actually applies to all aspects of federally-funded education programs and activities for both men and women. It prohibits sexual harassment, discrimination in admissions and housing and helps ensure that people of both sexes have access to higher education, career services, safe learning environments and appropriate technology. Athletics is only one facet of the act, which is much broader in its scope than most people are aware.
While some schools may choose to cut men's athletic programs to comply with Title IX, the legislation does not require this kind of action. There are actually multiple ways that schools can meet its tenets, and not all require the proportionality test (matching the percentage of male and female students to the availability of athletic programs, scholarships and funding) to be strictly enforced. They can also comply through showing a history and continuing practice of expanding athletic programs in response to the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex. Schools can also qualify if their present athletic programs are broad enough to meet the underrepresented sex's interests. Issues with Title IX are usually only investigated if there have been claims of denial of participation opportunities in athletics.
Title IX hasn't spurred progress in gaining equality for every facet of athletics, as some might think. In 2008, only 43% of coaches of women's teams were women. In 1972, that number was over 90%. The problem is two-fold. On one hand, there simply aren't enough women going into coaching to fill all the available positions. On the other, those that do are often bullied and discriminated against, causing them to change careers or leave college coaching altogether. The Title IX legislation that's meant to protect them? It often doesn't do much at all. Just ask the female coaches at Ball State University.
Despite the large number of those who grumble about Title IX on the web or in the media, the majority of Americans still support this act. How many? Recent surveys put it at about 82% in favor, across all political parties, cultural and age groups. Only 14% believe that the law should be repealed. Whether or not everyone agrees that Title IX legislation is the best way to help women get into sports, it's clear that people today value female athletic participation. This makes it all the more important to help ladies get the equal opportunities they deserve to play.