Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 is the landmark legislation that bans sex discrimination in schools, whether it be in academics or athletics. Title IX states:
"No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid."
Athletics has created the most controversy regarding Title IX, but its gains in education and academics are notable. Before Title IX, many schools refused to admit women or enforced strict limits. Some statistics highlighting the advancements follow:
- In 2010, women received 48.3% of medical degrees, compared with 9% in 1972.
- In 2009, women earned 46% of law degrees, compared with 7% in 1972.
- In 2009, 40% of all doctoral degrees to U.S. citizens went to women, up from 25% in 1977.
For athletics, Title IX governs the overall equity of treatment and opportunity while giving schools the flexibility to choose sports based on student body interest, geographic influence, budget restraints, and gender ratio. In other words, it is not a matter of women being able to participate in wrestling or that exactly the same amount of money is spent per women's and men's basketball player. Instead, the focus is on the necessity for women to have equal opportunities as men on a whole, not on an individual basis.
In regard to intercollegiate athletics, there are three primary areas that determine if an institution is in compliance (the "three prongs"):
- athletic financial assistance
- accommodation of athletic interests & abilities
- other program areas
Appraisal of compliance is on a program-wide basis, not on a sport-by-sport basis.
It is unclear what the consequences are for a school not adhering to the letter of the law with respect to Title IX. Usually, any threat to take legal action under Title IX has caused the school to cave rather quickly. To make matters more complicated, the vague wording of the law leaves much room for interpretation which would make any kind of enforcement expensive and time-consuming, unless it can be proved that efforts were made specifically to avoid compliance with the law.
UCLA currently has 10 men’s sports and 12 women’s sports, with rosters shown below:
The Daily Bruin has three articles today about how Title IX compliance has affected the athletic department at UCLA, so let’s delve into them.
The first article describes how financial restraints have prevented some UCLA club teams to gain NCAA status, specifically discussing lacrosse and rugby:
The cost of adding men’s sports to college programs has to be balanced with women’s sports to keep in compliance with Title IX. Sports such as lacrosse are high in cost on the West Coast, creating an imbalance in the men’s and women’s programs.
The issue for lacrosse is that most NCAA sanctioned teams are on the east coast, which makes travel quite expensive. Yet, California is the state with the most lacrosse teams. Rugby however has no NCAA sanctioned teams, yet it is growing in popularity for with both men and women which could make adding the sports more likely.
The second article describes the genesis of the UCLA softball program and the demise of other men’s programs in 1993, namely gymnastics, swimming and diving. Women’s gymnastics was nearly dropped that year as well, but the team threatened legal action on the basis of gender discrimination and thus was reinstated. Curtis Wilson, a former diver at UCLA, summed it up best:
Wilson said he thinks many universities feel they have their hands tied by Title IX. Although teams are usually cut to address budget issues, Wilson wondered whether, without the law, administrators might be more inclined to look for solutions that do not involve eliminating entire programs, such as cutting small amounts to all programs. The damage done to men’s sports is an ugly side effect of a law meant to bring positive change for female athletes, he said.
The third article is about the UCLA women’s rowing team, which was added in 2001 after being cut in 1991 with the men’s team. The men’s water polo team was nearly cut that year as well. I was on the men’s team when it got cut, though not on scholarship yet. We had some potential Olympians on the team, and were coming off a national top-5 finish. The effect on them was pretty devastating. The women had two consecutive top-4 finishes. Clearly, performance had no influence on the decision, which at that point in time was purely financial and somehow justified stealing some athletes' dreams. Adding the women’s team in 2001 allowed UCLA to be in "compliance" with the three prongs cited above.
All in all, the law has had some great benefits and has a wonderful intent. But when it comes to athletics, it is at best misguided and at worst discriminatory. Can you imagine if law schools and med schools had stopped admitting as many men in order to achieve gender equality in numbers? It is ludicrous. The very fact that women’s teams were kept at the expense of men’s teams is in itself pure and simple discrimination and violates the spirit of the law. That is just my opinion of course. When there is a legitimate demand for a sport that will serve an existing base of athletes with an established intercollegiate network, taking away that opportunity simply because of someone’s gender is reprehensible.
In fact, cutting swimming, gymnastics and rowing shows that for the last twenty years, the Morgan Center has had virtually no respect for any UCLA athletic tradition, running the department instead like clueless constipated bureaucrats obsessed with the bottom line. "Losing" the Pauley center circle, relegating students behind the basket, Thursday night football away games…it makes you really wonder if they really understand what UCLA is all about.
The final point which I would like to make is that Title IX is supposed to apply to every educational program that receives federal funding. Well, how much does that apply to UCLA anymore?...