Sport Law Discussion Questions
- Title IX & Gender Equity in Athletics Programs
Since the mid-1990s, between 125 and 150 Title IX complaints against school districts have typically been filed each year with the OCR, with approximately half resulting in a resolution agreement (settlement) after the initial phases of an OCR investigation and the other half resulting in federal lawsuits. And in a few anomalous years, the number of complaints has soared. For instance, in 2011, 210 school districts encompassing 525 high schools were named in formal complaints filed with the OCR.
The incidence of complaints and lawsuits illustrates the need for school and athletics administrators to ensure that they have a thorough understanding of the Title IX regulatory framework, including the expectations of both the OCR and the federal courts with regard to compliance. Most important for high schools is a complete and accurate grasp of the OCR’s so-called “laundry list” of 11 areas of “other athletics benefits and opportunities” out of which the vast majority of Title IX complaints arise, including equivalence between girls teams and boys teams with regard to facilities and locker rooms, equipment and uniforms, travel and transportation, access to quality coaching, publicity and marketing support, game and practice scheduling, and other categories of program resources and support. It is also critical for school personnel to have a thorough understanding of the nuances of the so-called “three prong test” for evaluating whether a school provides adequate sports participation opportunities for its female students. And as part of a proactive compliance strategy, schools should conduct periodic self-audits in an effort to identify and correct any violations of either the letter or the spirit of Title IX law.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law in the United States of America that was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972.
Title IX was enacted as a follow-up to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 1964 Act was passed to end discrimination in various fields based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in the areas of employment and public accommodation. The 1964 Act did not prohibit sex discrimination against persons employed at educational institutions. A parallel law, Title VI, had also been enacted in 1964 to prohibit discrimination in federally funded private and public entities. It covered race, color, and national origin but excluded sex. Feminists during the early 1970s lobbied Congress to add sex as a protected class category. Title IX was enacted to fill this gap and prohibit discrimination in all federally funded education programs. Congressman John Tower then proposed an amendment to Title IX that would have exempted athletics departments from the scope of Title IX’s coverage.