The College Sports Council released some interesting data today about Title IX and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  The CSC’s study shows that HBCUs have trouble meeting Title IX’s strict proportionality test (a school’s gender ratio of enrollment must match its gender ratio in athletics to pass the test).  Here are some of the stats:

  • 72 of the nation’s 74 HBCUs that are co-educational and have athletic programs were out of compliance with the strict proportionality standard.
  • 29 of the schools out of compliance would have received an “F” from the Women’s Sports Foundation in their latest report card on gender equity in college athletics.
  • 43 schools, though they didn’t get an “F”, are still vulnerable to lengthy and expensive litigation.
  • Only 2 schools (Allen University, Morris College) were in compliance.

Why does this matter? I’ll let a former coach from Howard University explain: 

“Currently, HBCUs are struggling to increase male enrollment, and offering varsity athletic programs is one practical tool a college or university has to increase the number of male students on campus, ” said Wade Hughes, who was head coach of Howard University’s wrestling team when the program was terminated back in 2002 along with the baseball team.  “At the time the wrestling and baseball teams were eliminated at Howard, the university was out of compliance with proportionality. Now here we are again, five years later, they’ve added bowling as a varsity sport for women and the university has still not achieved proportionality.”

“Many HBCUs are struggling financially.  Adding sports teams for male athletes will not only attract more students to their campuses, but help to achieve a more balanced undergraduate student gender ratio,” added Hughes.

“If these schools are forced to comply with Title IX’s proportionality test, then adding sports teams to attract more male students is not an option.”

CSC’s solution, and I couldn’t agree more, is for the NCAA to support the use HBCUs’ use of surveys to comply with Title IX.  These surveys offer schools flexibility and the chance to base their athletic programs on proven student interest, rather than fitting to the one-size-fits-all quota system the proportionality test currently requires.

More data from CSC’s study is available here.

IWF’s commentary on Title IX is available here.