Title IX is often referred to when speaking about high school or college athletics. It’s part of the Education Amendments of 1972 and ironically, when it was originally written there was no mention of sports in the statute.
Title IX was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002 to honor the principal author of the act, Congresswoman Patsy Mink.
The official language of Title IX says “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.”
In a nutshell, discrimination from federally-funded education programs based on gender is a big no-no. This was originally included as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but got a bit more specific in 1972. A lot of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was brought about to equalize hiring practices, but it branched over into education as well.
The effect on colleges and universities when considering Title IX was felt hard in 1975 when it was announced that the rule would be strictly enforced. This meant that schools with sports programs were told how many female athletes they had to have in comparison to male athletes, budgets of male and female sports had to be comparable, which sports a school could have and the appropriate level of competition. Once the clarifications were given, all NCAA schools had three years to meet the standards they had been given.
In 1979, Title IX was even further specified to include a three-prong test. This is the test that all educational institutions were and are still measured against to ensure they are properly complying with Title IX specifications.
- Prong one states that the school must provide athletic participation opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the student enrollment.
- Prong two states that the school must demonstrate a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented sex.
- Prong three states that the school must provide full and effective accommodation of the interest and ability of the underrepresented sex.
Many schools were not happy about these new regulations, because it meant they would have to spend money bringing their athletics up to code or risk losing their money-making programs. Though many have viewed Title IX as legislation that mostly benefits women as the underrepresented sex, there have been some new developments.
On April 20, 2010, the United States Commission on Civil Rights offered recommendations for Title IX. The Commission wanted to address the constant downsizing of men’s athletic programs in response to Title IX. Their recommendation was that the language be changed to take into account both sexes rather than just the underrepresented sex, which has been females a majority of the time.