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March 30 2007

Trends in Title IX

Allison Kasic

As we head into Final Four weekend, many people have college athletics on their mind. It's the perfect time to consider the state of college sports, and in particular, the law that has significantly affected modern athletics, Title IX. The 1972 law aimed to prevent sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funds, but ironically is now used to justify a different kind of sex discrimination.


For years, proponents of Title IX have said that schools can fully satisfy the law by adding opportunities for women, without any negative affect on male athletes. But the actual history of the law tells a different story. In the past year alone we have been bombarded with stories of massive cuts-- 10 teams at James Madison, 6 teams at Rutgers, and 4 teams at Ohio University. These stories are not anomalies; they all follow a similar pattern. In each case, schools felt pressure to comply with the "proportionality" prong of Title IX, which could best described as Title IX's gender quota test. The percentage of male and female athletes has to directly mirror male and female enrollment figures. There is no room for flexibility; it's a one-size-fits-all system. Schools simply do not view the other prongs of Title IX compliance as viable options. And it's not surprising why. With so many interest groups out there itching to sue schools over Title IX, proportionality is the only measure that provides quantitative proof of compliance. The other prongs are subjective and leave schools in a vulnerable position. The NCAA itself recognizes proportionality as the only measure of compliance.


Sadly, cutting men's teams is often the only way for schools to meet the proportionality test. Now a new study from the College Sports Council confirms what Title IX reform advocates have known for years: that opportunities for men have faced consistent and significant decline while Title IX has been in force.

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The Big Picture


Past analysis of athletic participation numbers show an increase in overall opportunities for both men and women. But at the same time, the percentage of schools sponsoring certain sports was going down. Something didn't add up. The flaw to these studies is that they failed to incorporate a very important variable: the number of NCAA schools. Each year the NCAA admits more schools as NCAA member institutions. In 1981 there were only 788 NCAA schools, but that number jumped to 1039 schools by 2000. Once schools are admitted, their participation numbers are included in the NCAA figures, fueling a perception of greatly increased growth in athletic participation. But these actually are not new teams; they are simply pre-existing teams that are now figured into the equation.


The College Sports Council's study is the first to control for the increase in NCAA schools (the figures were calculated using a simple fixed-year analysis, similar to how an economist would account for inflation over time). The results are staggering and should outrage anyone concerned with equality and fairness.


In both number of teams and number of athletes, men have seen a significant and steady decline, while opportunities for women have flourished. From 1981 to 2005 male athletes per school declined 6%, from 225.8 to 213.2.? In the same time female athletes per school rose 34% from 98.7 to 159.5. The trend in overall teams is similar: men's teams per school dropped 17% from 9.1 to 7.8 while women's teams rose 34% from 6.4 to 8.7. The total number of women's teams has exceeded the number of men's teams since 1995.

 

On the Verge of Extinction

When the increase in NCAA member institutions is taken into account, every male sport other than baseball has declined or remained static in terms of numbers of teams. Men's swimming, wrestling, and tennis have been hit the hardest by Title IX cuts. Men's gymnastics is on the verge of extinction. Only 19 men's gymnastics teams remain in the country. If the trend continues, it will soon be eliminated entirely.
 

On the Verge of Extinction

When the increase in NCAA member institutions is taken into account, every male sport other than baseball has declined or remained static in terms of numbers of teams. Men's swimming, wrestling, and tennis have been hit the hardest by Title IX cuts. Men's gymnastics is on the verge of extinction. Only 19 men's gymnastics teams remain in the country. If the trend continues, it will soon be eliminated entirely.



Football is Not the Problem


Many Title IX proponents blame football as the key problem for college sports, consuming resources and overwhelming other sports. They say that without so many roster spots and resources directed at football (which has no female teams) then schools wouldn't have to cut other men's teams. But the CSC's study shows that even football has seen a steady decline in the number of teams and athletes over the past 25 years. Title IX's impact has been across the board and even football has suffered as a result.

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Conclusion


As a former Division I athlete, I am thrilled to see women doing so well on campus. All I ask is that men be afforded the same opportunity to succeed. Title IX isn't the problem, its enforcement mechanisms are. It is long past due for Title IX enforcement mechanisms that are equitable for both sexes. Title IX was intended to prevent sex discrimination, but now we see it being used as a weapon against male athletes. It is time to restore Title IX to its original intentions.


Allison Kasic is director of campus programs at the Independent Women's Forum.

All graphs are courtesy of the College Sports Council. The CSC's full study can be viewed here: http://savingsports.org/presentation/



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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