Reforming Title IX

Margaret Spellings, secretary-designate of Education, is suspected of blocking reform of gender quotas in college sports; federal enforcement of Title IX has forced the elimination of men’s wrestling, gymnastics, crew and other second-tier sports. Eric Pearson of the College Sports Council, writing in National Review, is pressuring Spellings to approve a report on Title IX reform, which was shelved, apparently for political reasons.

Over 100 NCAA men’s teams were eliminated last year alone. The termination of more programs is a certainty: School officials reason that only by making their athletic departments exactly “proportional” to their entire undergraduate student body can they protect themselves from government investigation and trial lawyers.

. . . One vague provision already a part of the law says that schools can comply by providing teams based on the level of interest. So shouldn’t we find some clear ways for schools to measure how they can reasonably meet the interest of men and women who want to participate in athletics?

As female enrollment climbs well past 50 percent, colleges are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit enough female athletes. Typically, football and basketball survive, but other men’s sports must be cut.

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  1. Must be cut? I thought the idea was proportionality of opportunity, not a quota. Is there really a quota, or are colleges and universities using this as an opportunity to get rid of underperforming sports while making public relations moves to appease women?

    The elephant in the room is football. It involves a huge amount of male athletes, has no female equivalent, and is the gravy train most athletic departments use to support everything else. It wouldn’t be hard to write football out of Title IX, but I doubt the current Congress has the skill or sees the need to resolve this potentially-useful campaign issue.

  2. Clark E Myers says:

    The one example I have from personal experience was the destruction of a co-ed rifle team in the interests of a proper proportion of women’s teams.

    Despite being co-ed for college competition the rifle team increased the total team count but not the women’s team count. The Title IX rules as interpreted, correctly I think, required a proportion of women only teams to the the total number of teams to achieve a set ratio. Of the non women’s teams the rifle team had the least support – but was the only sport where men and women engaged in intercollegiate competition on perfectly equal terms.

  3. superdestroyer says:

    There are three things to remember about Title IX compliance:

    1. Compliance is achieved by variety athletes not scholarship athletes. Mens sports like baseball have only 9 scholarships to offer but have a team of about 25. This creates the need for 25 matching female athletes (or more is the university has a higher percentage of women than men).

    2. Women do not walk on to sports teams like men do. A Div I varsity football team only has 85 scholarships but also has many walk ons. Women not only do not have a sport to match football but also do not have many walk ons. The former athletic director of Univ. of Maryland once said in an interview than none of the team members of the NCAA winning women’s lacrosse team would be on the team if they were not on scholarship.

    3. US News once had a story on Title IX that reported that the universities with the worst compliance rates were the historically black univeristies.

  4. “A Div I varsity football team only has 85 scholarships but also has many walk ons.”

    I don’t know about other schools, but this definitely isn’t true at my school. Our Div I football team has about 100 members and only about 5 are walk-ons.

    “[football] is the gravy train most athletic departments use to support everything else.”

    also not necessarily true. At our school, the football team sucks, nobody goes to the games because we always lose, and yet they still get a ridiculous amount of money even with their lame record (last year we only won one game).

    And while we’re on the topic of football, it’s true that there’s no female equivalent (although schools do have female rugby teams), but women have played on men’s college football teams before.

  5. superdestroyer says:


    By NCAA regulations, the football team is limited to 85 scholarships overall and can only award 25 per year. Also, football is not allowed to split scholarships between players like men’s baseball or track is allowed to do.
    Also, the women’s basketball team is allowed to have more scholarship athletes than the men’s team is.

    The is not equivalent to men’s football because there is not women’s sports that has teams as large as a football team that all schools play. Women crew is about 50 members is the closests.

    Another artifact of Title IX is the growth of cheerleader competitions. At many schools the cheerleaders are part of the athletic department and all women dance teams can be put on scholarship to offset the male athletes.

  6. Ivy schools don’t do athletic scholarhips at all. What I meant is that almost the entire football team is made up of official “recruits” rather than walk-ons. I was just pointing out that there are not “many” walk-ons, and the team is almost entirely composed of players who were brought here specifically to play football. A “walk-on” isn’t just a player who didn’t get a scholarship. Recruits w/out scholarships are NOT walk-ons. A “walk-on” is someone who was not recruited and just decided after they were admitted to a school that they wanted to be on the team, tried out, and made it.