Guest Post: A New Look at Title IX – Survey Says

Today’s post is courtesy of guest blogger Jude Russo Caserta.

Originally every five years and now every ten each NCAA school must complete a self-study of their athletic department followed by an on-site visit from peer institutions to verify they are in compliance with Title IX. This hugely symbolic exercise is one of the largest time suckers known to mankind or because this author is female I should say womankind to satisfy the first prong, proportionality, of Title IX compliance. Here are the three prongs from www.ncaa.org:

The OCR’s three-part test for Title IX compliance involves the following options for providing participation opportunities:

  • Male-female athletics participation that is proportional to the institution’s full-time undergraduate enrollment, or
  • A history and continuing practice of expansion of athletics opportunities for the under-represented gender, or
  • Accommodating the interests and abilities of the under-represented gender (Hosick, 2010)

In 2005 the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) said you only had to do internet or e-mail surveys to determine if you were accommodating interest of the under-represented gender. Easy peezy, lemon squeezy! The odds of this survey actually determining the interest were slim and the NCAA told its folks – not so fast – step away from prong three. As a result, proportionality remained the most quantitative way to comply.

I am here to say that proportionality has absolutely killed college football. Do you think this was an intended consequence when Congresswoman Patsy Mink wrote the law back in 1972? In my job as athletic business manager and as a former Senior Women’s Administrator I think of Title IX all of the time. When I build or manage budgets and work with the daily micro-transactions which support sport programs I am constantly aware of what goes to men and to women. Our athletic director supports a culture of fiscal integrity which I instill every day. We dropped football in 2002 along with Men’s and Women’s Tennis, Track & Field and Rifle. We picked up Men’s Swimming. This made an immediate impact on proportionality. Dropping sports is painful and challenges tradition.

Still, there are schools that do not apply the three prongs appropriately and do not offer the under-represented gender equal opportunity. Just last week OCR announced it is rescinding its 2005 clarification. For prong three, in addition to surveys there must be “1) unmet interest sufficient to sustain a varsity team in the sport(s) 2) sufficient ability to sustain an intercollegiate team in the sport(s) and 3) reasonable expectation of intercollegiate competition for a team in the sport(s) within the school’s normal competitive region.” (Rights, 2010) If a group of champion skiers wants to start a downhill ski team in Florida they would not be successful because of competitive region. You must fulfill all three things to start a sport.

Perhaps I should openly admit I have my job because of Title IX (actually from the 1995 time-robber self study) when it was determined our school did not actually have fiscal integrity. I was asked to write a job description which would cover all of the concerns of the peer review committee, decide how many hours it would take to complete these tasks and determine how much compensation would be appropriate. In other words, I wrote my own job description, determined my hours and decided my pay…good gig if you can get it!

Unspoken in this are the financial resources needed to sustain a sport. Do you drop a male sport to bring on a female sport? I think the greatest moral dilemma remains the balance between opportunity and what I believe are the unintended consequences of dropping sports.

I sincerely hope there is a day when girls are not aware of Title IX and just get to play.

Jude Russo Caserta is the Athletic Business Manager at Canisius College and helped the MAAC Conference create Agreed-Upon Procedures years before the NCAA. She has a B.S. in Accounting and M.S. in Sport Administration and, as president of Athletic Business Systems, wants to help institutional business offices partner with athletic departments to create a culture of fiscal integrity. You can read more from her at www.AthleticBudgetCoach.com/blog, follow her on Twitter as @JudeCaserta, or email her at judi_caserta@athleticbudgetcoach.com.