Title IX: Would it ever collapse under its own weight?

Many thanks to the folks organizing the NCAA convention for streaming today’s session on Title IX.

If only it weren’t so depressing.

Sure, this wasn’t some rah-rah session to cheer about how much progress women have made in American sports, progress that shouldn’t be taken for granted. The target audience was athletic department types who have to make sure their schools are compliant.

And the middle segment was a topic that’s not going to be pleasant under any circumstances — sexual violence and what universities need to do not just to prevent it but help victims. Hearing some of the examples of what victims can face is just heart-rending.

The more mundane details were just overwhelming. If I were a compliance officer, I would have walked out of that meeting with an overriding sense of hopelessness. (Granted, I might have walked into that meeting with the same feeling.)

We know the basic issues — as colleges skew more female, it’ll be tougher for schools to meet strict proportionality. North Carolina has one of the best women’s sports programs in the country, but the student body is more than majority female, so it’s not likely to meet proportionality as long as it keeps up a football team. The next two tests are more nebulous.

So what did we learn in this session? Well, for one thing, “lack of facilities is not a defense.” They didn’t go into detail on that point, but I’m wondering where the line would be drawn. If you have enough people who want to play tennis, do you need a tennis facility? A competition-quality pool if you have a demand for swimming? Maybe a velodrome for track cyclists?

Well, maybe not. The one thing that I learned from the session that made me think athletic departments are going to survive is that sports don’t need to be added unless they have enough students who are not only interested but reasonably capable of competing at a varsity level.

And yet we have enough giant rowing teams with marginally interested athletes that they actually joked about them in the presentation.

So it seems like something’s gotta give. That, they didn’t talk about.


One thought on “Title IX: Would it ever collapse under its own weight?

  1. UNC’s student newspaper ran a story last week mentioning that the school was in the midst of a regular Title IX self-evaluation, and I’m sure that exercise will identify exactly what you outlined here. Given the depth and breadth of the women’s athletic program at UNC, you’d think they ought to be able to prove compliance through the use of student interest surveys. Unfortunately, that option was gutted by the Obama Administration back in 2010:


    Without the ability to prove compliance through interest surveys, UNC is vulnerable to a potentially expensive law suit. And that’s scary, because if an athletic department like UNC isn’t in compliance, than the vast majority of schools at all levels of competition aren’t either.

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