From the Basement: Title IX devolves into ineffectiveness

With the intention of providing equal opportunity to all athletes regardless of sex, Title IX proved beneficial in 1972. More than 40 years later, the law is faltering. 

Through the cutting of programs, fabrication of rosters and unattainable standards, the relevance and supposed benefits of the regulations have been brought into question.

The law was meant to provide uniform treatment for men and women on the field and in the locker room but has since shifted to mean proportional equality. Given the number of students participating and spaces on a roster, Title IX only hinders athletics.  

According to data from the NCAA, some institutions exploit Title IX by cutting programs to become compliant rather than spending to add programs for women. The only requirement is an equal number of athletes, not equal spending.

Dropping programs does not add opportunities or increase scholarship dollars for women, but it does skew the numbers, giving an impression that schools are in compliance with an impossible and loosely-enforced ratio. At Tulane, the student population is 56 percent female, so 56 percent of athletes must be female to abide by the rule.

Achieving equal percentages when the football team can have 105 players on the roster is an absurd demand, as football teams will never be cut due to the revenue they generate. In the 2015-16 season, Green Wave football brought in $3.215 million. Less profitable teams are therefore cut.

The modern emphasis on proportionality rather than equal opportunity, the original intention of the law, has made Title IX a hurdle to overcome rather than a standard to achieve.

Another way athletic departments can meet the Title IX proportion is through falsifying rosters to avoid a potential investigation. This process is easier and cheaper than adding more women’s sports or recruiting more female athletes, which is difficult due to scholarship limitations.

UCLA women’s basketball placed men who helped the team practice on the women’s roster to avoid a disproportion. This tactic, known as using phantom players, is employed by countless universities, most famously by University of Washington, which had students on the crew roster who had no involvement in the program or knowledge that the team was doing so.

The pressure to find this unachievable balance has only led to further issues, which will need to be addressed by departments rather than continued dependence on Title IX. The NCAA needs to accept that Title IX is outdated. An athletic department cannot be expected to proportion teams equally beyond numbers on a sheet. 

With this law, there is no way to please everyone. The Citadel in South Carolina is 89 percent male and 11 percent female, but if those numbers were reflected in the student-to-athlete ratio, the program would be called sexist.

Title IX was designed to encourage women to seek out athletic opportunities, not to hinder the development of strong and equitable athletic departments, regardless of gender. In order for Title IX to remain relevant, the proportionality aspect needs to be disregarded, and initiatives to benefit women and gender minorities need to be placed at the forefront.

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