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Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, renamed in 2002 the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in honor of its principal author, but more commonly known simply as Title IX, is a United Statesmarker law enacted on June 23, 1972. The law states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance..."

Although the most prominent aspect of Title IX is its impact on high school and collegiate athletics, the original statute made no explicit mention of athletics.


Although the Civil Rights Act was originally written in order to end discrimination based on color, the act tremendously helped to energize the Women’s Rights movement which had somewhat slowed after women’s suffrage in 1920. Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights act says that any institution receiving federal or state funding may not discriminate against anyone based on sex. The act was passed in 1972 as a result of combining acts VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VI states that “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Title VII forbids discrimination in hiring and employment based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. In the context of Title IX and women’s rights it is important to note that Title IV includes no mention of gender bias whereas Title VII does. After signing the Civil Rights act a few years earlier, in 1967, President Johnson issued a series of executive orders in order to make some clarifications. Before these clarifications were made, the National Organization for Women (NOW) persuaded President Johnson to include women in his executive orders. The most notable order was Order 11246 which required all entities receiving federal contracts to end discrimination in hiring. In 1969, emerging activist, Bernice Sandler used the executive order to help her fight for her job a the University of Maryland. She used university stats showing how female employment at the university had plummeted as qualified women were replaced by men. Sandler brought her grievance to the Department of Labor’s Office for Federal Contract Compliance where she was encouraged to file a formal complaint. Citing inequalities in pay, rank, admissions and much more, Sandler began to file complaints not only against the University of Maryland but numerous other colleges as well. Working in conjunction with NOW and Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL), Sandler filed 250 complaints against colleges and universities. In 1970, Sandler joined Representative Edith Green’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and sat in on the congressional hearings where women’s rights were discussed. It was in the congressional hearings that Green and Sandler first proposed Title IX. Title IX was drafted and introduced by Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink, with the assistance of Congresswoman Green. In the hearing there was very little mention of athletics . Their focus was more specifically on the hiring and employment practices of federally financed institutions. The proposed Title IX created much buzz and gained a lot of support. Title IX was passed into law on June 23, 1972. The wording of Title IX is very brief so specific language and clarifications on the implementation were very important. President Johnson charged the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) with this important task. It wasn’t until this step that everyone truly understood the ramifications of Title IX as it would apply to college athletics. Worried about how it would affect men’s athletics, many people became concerned and looked for ways to limit the influence of Title IX. One such attempt was by Senator John Tower who introduced an amendment to exempt revenue producing sports from Title IX compliance. Later that year the Tower amendment was rejected and the Javits amendment was put in its place. The Javits amendment, proposed by Senator Jacob Javits, stated that the HEW must include “reasonable provisions considering the nature of particular sports .” After nearly two years of debate, in June 1965, HEW published the final regulations as to how Title IX would be enforced . The regulations specify things like how many female athletes an college needs to have, which sports to offer, and the level of competition each is expected to have . The regulations do qualify that the budgets of men's and women's sports do not have to be equal but should be comparable. Universities were given 3 years to comply with these standards. The NCAA and many universities were not happy about the decisions made by the HEW. The NCAA tried unsuccessfully to claim that the implementation of Title IX was illegal. A revised Tower amendment was proposed and many debates were had but Title IX stood. A few years later, in 1979, the HEW issued further clarifications which broke down compliance into three sections. This became known as the three-pronged test for compliance. The three prong test has been highly controversial throughout its conception. In 1980 the Department of Education (DOE) was established and given oversight over title IX through the Office for Civil Rights.

Applicability and compliance

The legislation covers all educational activities, and complaints under Title IX alleging discrimination in fields such as science or math education, or in other aspects of academic life such as access to health care and dormitory facilities, are not unheard of. It also applies to non-sport activities such as school band and clubs; however, social fraternities and sororities, sex-specific youth clubs such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and Girls State and Boys State are specifically exempt from Title IX requirements.

Title IX is administered by the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education (OCR). It applies to an entire school or institution if any part of that school receives federal funds; hence, athletic programs are subject to Title IX, even though there is very little direct federal funding of school sports. The regulations implementing Title IX require all institutions receiving federal funds to conduct self-evaluations of whether they offer equal opportunities based on sex and to provide written assurances to the Dept. of Education that the institution is in compliance for the period that the federally funded equipment or facilities remain in use.

With respect to athletic programs, the Dept. of Education evaluates the following factors in determining whether equal treatment exists:
(1) Whether the selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of members of both sexes;

(2) The provision of equipment and supplies;

(3) Scheduling of games and practice time;

(4) Travel and per diem allowance;

(5) Opportunity to receive coaching and academic tutoring on mathematics only;

(6) Assignment and compensation of coaches and tutors;

(7) Provision of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities;

(8) Provision of medical and training facilities and services;

(9) Provision of housing and dining facilities and services;

(10) Publicity.

Unequal aggregate expenditures for members of each sex or unequal expenditures for male and female teams if a recipient operates or sponsors separate teams will not constitute noncompliance with this section, but the Assistant Secretary [of Education for Civil Rights] may consider the failure to provide necessary funds for teams for one sex in assessing equality of opportunity for members of each sex.

On November 24, 2006, the Department of Education OCR regulations were amended to provide greater flexibility in the operation of single-sex classes or extracurricular activities at the primary or secondary school level.

Three-prong test of compliance

In 1979, the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare under Jimmy Carter's administration issued a policy interpretation for Title IX, including what has become known as the "three-prong test" of an institution's compliance.
  1. Prong one - Providing athletic participation opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the student enrollment, OR
  2. Prong two - Demonstrate a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented sex, OR
  3. Prong three - Full and effective accommodation of the interest and ability of underrepresented sex.

A recipient of federal funds can demonstrate compliance with Title IX by meeting any one of the three prongs.

On March 17, 2005, OCR announced a clarification of prong three of the three-part test of Title IX compliance. The guidance concerned the use web-based surveys to determine the level of interest in varsity athletics among the under-represented sex.

Implementation and litigation

Grove City vs. Bell: A 1984 lawsuit brought by Grove City College against the Department of Education. Grove City, in an effort to remain out of the jurisdiction of Title IX refused state and federal financial assistance. However, they did accept students who were receiving Basic Educational Opportunity Grants through a Department of Education program . The DOE ruled that because some of its students were receiving the grants the school was receiving federal assistance and was required to comply with Title IX standards. The school did not agree with the DOE’s ruling and brought their case to the Supreme Court. The Court decided that Title IX applied only to those programs receiving direct financial aid. Since Grove City was only receiving assistance in the financial aid program, only that program had to be in compliance.

The ruling in the Grove City case was a huge victory for those opposed to Title IX. This made many institutions sports programs outside of the rule of Title IX. The Grove City vs. Bell ruling severely slowed the progress being made by the implementation of Title IX. The ruling, however, was short lived. The Civil Rights Restoration Act was passed in 1988 which restored Title IX coverage to all of an educational institution’s programs if the institution receives any federal assistance, whether direct or indirect.

The last major piece of Title IX legislation was the passing of the Equity in Athletics Disclosure act of 1994. The act, sponsored by Illinois congresswoman, Cardiss Collins, required federally-assisted higher education institutions to disclose information on roster sizes for men’s and women’s teams, as well as budgets for recruiting, scholarships, coaches’ salaries, and other expenses, annually. This allowed for much better monitoring of Title IX compliance.

Since Title IX was passed into law there have been many court cases claiming non-compliance. One of the most notable cases is Franklin vs. Gwinnet County, brought to court in 1992. The decision in this case required that punitive damages should be awarded to plaintiffs when Title IX is intentionally avoided. In addition, one year later in the Favia vs Indiana University of Pennsylvania the court of appeals ruled that financial difficulties is not an excuse for non-compliance.

In one specific instance, Title IX was instrumental in a court case involving Louisiana State Universitymarker. In 1996, a federal court referenced Title IX in ruling that LSU violated the civil rights of female athletes with "arrogant ignorance" of their needs. Since this ruling, LSU has made changes in its athletic programs to achieve compliance.

In an "unusual" case, Title IX was invoked to justify a school's decision to upgrade its football program from Division I FCS (formerly I-AA) to Division I FBS (formerly I-A). The Western Kentucky Universitymarker Board of Regents approved this move in November 2006, to take effect in 2009. At the time of the vote, WKU was purportedly out of Title IX compliance because it had a disproportionately large number of female scholarship athletes. By upgrading football, it increased the percentage of male athletes on scholarship. However, the following year, it eliminated its men's soccer team.


It is difficult to characterize the impact of Title IX on athletics in an unbiased way. Advocates cite increases in female athletic participation. Critics note that such increases might have occurred in the absence of legislation.

A 2008 study of intercollegiate athletics showed that women's collegiate sports has grown to 9,101 teams, or 8.65 per school. The five most frequently offered college sports for women are, in order: (1) Basketball, 98.8% of schools have a team, (2) Volleyball, 95.7%, (3) Soccer, 92.0%, (4) Cross Country, 90.8%, and (5) Softball, 89.2%.


Title IX has been a source of controversy in part due to claims that Title IX has contributed to the reduction of programs for male athletes.

Commission on Opportunity in Athletics

On June 27, 2002, Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced the creation of the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics (COA), a blue-ribbon panel to examine ways to strengthen enforcement and expand opportunities to ensure fairness for all college athletes. Co-chairs for the COA were Cynthia Cooper and Ted Leland. The purpose of the Commission was to collect information, analyze issues, and obtain broad public input directed at improving the application of Federal standards for measuring equal opportunity for men and women and boys and girls to participate in athletics under Title IX. Sports scholarships between men and women must be equal.

The panel held four town hall meetings (in Atlanta, Chicago, Colorado Springs, and San Diego) to allow the general public to comment on the past, present, and future of Title IX. On February 26, 2003 the COA issued its final report. The COA provided twenty-three recommendations to the Secretary of Education. Although many of the recommendations were unanimous, some of the more controversial recommendations passed by an 8-5 vote. These dealt with considering non-scholarship athletes in prong one of the three-part test for compliance and allowing interest surveys to determine compliance with prong three. On the same day, Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced he would only consider the unanimous recommendations, which provided that the Department of Education (1) reaffirm its strong commitment to equal opportunity for girls and boys, women and men; (2) aggressively enforce Title IX in a uniform way across the nation; (3) give equal weight to all three prongs of the test governing Title IX compliance; and (4) encourage schools to understand that the Department of Education disapproves of cutting teams in order to comply with Title IX.

Similar U.S. state laws

Because Title IX only addresses public and private schools that receive federal funding, several states have enacted similar laws to prohibit discrimination based on sex regardless of whether the school receives federal funding. The states are: Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

See also


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