WASHINGTON, DC (January 29, 2003) Recommendations expected to be made in the coming days by the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics to Education Secretary Rod Paige will improve the unfair environment created by Title IX but not go nearly far enough, the Independent Women’s Forum said today.
“What is needed is an end to the current proportionality test,” says Editor of The Women’s Quarterly Charlotte Hays. “The recommendations we expect the Commission to make varying the proportionality, excluding non-traditional students from computation, and measuring student interest in athletics by sex are a step in the right direction but, unfortunately, will still leave fairness out of intercollegiate sports.”
The original intent of Title IX was to prohibit sex discrimination in federally-funded educational programs. It was never intended to function as a quota system. Instead, this policy of proportionality has been implemented by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) placing unrealistic demands on colleges and institutionalizing discrimination against men.
The proportionality test used by the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) requires colleges and universities to demonstrate that participation in collegiate sports is proportional by sex to their respective enrollments. It is therefore an arbitrary and unfair means of determining a school’s compliance with Title IX.
IWF Senior Fellow Melana Zyla Vickers notes: “Because the test fails to account for differing levels of interest between men and women, many universities have been forced to drop men’s sports teams, such as wrestling, baseball, or gymnastics, in order comply with Title IX. Also, the proportionality test excludes those women who participate in traditional female physical activities, such as dance, cheerleading, and drill team, making it even more difficult for schools to meet the strict quotas.”
Adds Hays, “Women are the majority of college students today. But women simply aren’t as interested as men in sports. In intramural sports, for example, which are driven entirely by student interest, only 22% of female students participate compared to 78% of men. And at all-women’s colleges, only 16% of women participate in sports.”
Vickers concludes, “Title IX was enacted to guarantee equal opportunity. It was never meant to ensure equal outcomes.”
The Independent Women’s Forum, founded in 1992, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.