NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Men's Sports Jeopardized by Title 9

August 9, 1999

Title 9 -- a 1972 amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act -- bars sex discrimination in education. Experts say the way it's interpreted forces colleges and universities to abandon men's sports programs when not enough women can be found to engage in their own events, thereby evening up the participation rates.

Title 9 also figures in issues such as school discipline, standardized testing and pay equity for men and women school employees. Critics fear that it may soon be used to determine who gets taught in the classroom.

  • At schools which belong to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, 200,000 men and 128,000 women engage in sports -- even though 55 percent of those enrolled in college are women.
  • Although opportunities for women to play sports jumped 16 percent from 1985 to 1997, according to General Accounting Office data, opportunities for men dropped 12 percent.
  • Colleges have dropped 350 men's teams since 1992.
  • While 60.5 percent of participants in high school athletics are boys, 55.6 percent of band members, 61 percent of drama participants and 68.3 percent of high school vocal music participants are girls.

So what does that signal for the future of those programs?

Norma Cantu, head of the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, says that Title 9 "does not require the elimination of teams, but rather requires equal opportunity." But observers say that Cantu's office uses "proportionality" as one of three ways for schools to show they are obeying the law.

Schools can also show they are continuing to add women's teams. Or they can show that a numerical gap between men and women demonstrates different interests on the part of the student body.

Source: Anna Bray Duff, "Going to the Mat for Title 9," Investor's Business Journal, August 9, 1999.


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