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Athletics and women

The federal law governing non-discrimination in educational programs, commonly known as Title IX (of the Education Amendments of 1972), has particular application in the area of college sports. The Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, enforces detailed regulations to ensure that athletic programs are operated free of discrimination on the basis of sex. There are three prongs to be considered when determining that programs are operated equitably.

Participation

Male and female athletes are entitled to an equal opportunity to play. Title IX does not require institutions to offer identical sports, or even the same number of sports, for men and women. However, an institution must accommodate to the same degree the athletic interests and abilities of each sex in the selection of sports. To meet this requirement, an institution may:

  • Provide participation opportunities for women and men that are substantially proportionate to their respective rates of enrollment of full-time undergraduate students;
  • Demonstrate a history and continuing practice of program expansion for the underrepresented sex; or
  • Fully and effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.

Scholarships

Title IX requires that female and male student-athletes receive athletics scholarship dollars proportional to their participation; if sixty per cent of the university’s intercollegiate athletes are male, then sixty per cent of the athletic scholarships should go to men. The law does not require that women receive the same number, or the same size awards as the men, only that the total awards be proportional to participation.

Athletic Benefits and Opportunities

Title IX requires the equal treatment of female and male student-athletes in the provision of:

  1. equipment and supplies;
  2. scheduling of games and practice times;
  3. travel and daily allowance/per diem;
  4. access to tutoring;
  5. coaching,
  6. locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities;
  7. medical and training facilities and services;
  8. housing and dining facilities and services;
  9. publicity and promotions;
  10. support services, and
  11. recruitment of student-athletes

Benefits and opportunities must be equivalent, but not necessarily identical; any differences must be negligible.

Mixed Review

Historically, women were greatly underrepresented in athletics. Title IX has had mixed results in terms of increasing opportunities for women in collegiate sports. It has been reported that women's participation in collegiate athletics increased 456 percent since the passage of Title IX. In a report entitled Title IX at 40: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Educationexternal link, the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Educationexternal link (NCWGE) finds that male participation has continued to increase in the last forty years, and more NCAA teams were created for men than were dropped. Women's progress has not come at the expense of men. In the 2010-11 academic year, slightly more women's teams were axed than men's teams. According to research by R. Vivian Acosta, PhD and Linda Jean Carpenter, PhD, JD, Women in Intercollegiate Sports: A Longitudinal, National Study—Thirty Five Year Updateexternal link, the number of intercollegiate women’s teams is at an all-time high; 2,928 teams have been created since 1998, giving many more women the chance to compete. There are 9,274 women's teams in intercollegiate athletics, which is the highest ever.

However, in 1972, more than 90 percent of women’s teams were coached by women, compared to less than half that proportion currently (42.9 percent). Only 20.9 percent (1 in 5) of all head coaches are women. The number of female athletic directors increased from 19 percent two years ago to 20.3 percent in 2012. Division I has the fewest number of female athletic directors at 36 (but the highest number (9.44) of women's teams per institution).

Questions about compliance by MU Intercollegiate Athletics with Title IX requirements should be directed to Sarah Reesman, executive associate athletic director.

Published by the MU Equity Office, S303 Memorial Union, Columbia, MO 65211   |   PHONE 573-882-9069   |   FAX 573-884-4103   |   E-MAIL equity@missouri.edu
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Last Updated: March 21, 2014