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Posted on January 31, 2003 Issues: Athletics Education & Title IX

For immediate release:January 31, 2003

Contact: Margot Friedman or Camden Richards at 202-588-5180

TITLE IX COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS WOULD REVERSE THREE DECADES OF PROGRESS FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS

IN SPORTS

National Women’s Law Center, Women’s Groups Say Title IX Changes are Sweeping and Devastating

& Call on Bush Administration to Reject Proposals

(Washington, D.C.) The National Women’s Law Center today called upon the Bush Administration and Secretary of Education Roderick Paige to reject the recommendations of the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics for radical and sweeping changes to Title IX athletics policies. If accepted by the Bush Administration after the Commission’s final report on Feb. 28, the changes to Title IX would reverse three decades of progress for women and girls in athletics.

“While some have characterized the Title IX changes as minor and moderate, their true impact would be to devastate women’s and girls’ opportunities to participate in athletics and receive scholarships,” said Marcia Greenberger, NWLC Co-President. “The Commission’s proposals tell schools they can comply with Title IX while falling far short of equal opportunity. It is not only outrageous, but insulting to women and girls – and their fathers and brothers — across this country.”

Over the vigorous objections of some Commissioners, the Commission approved recommendations that would dramatically reduce the participation opportunities and scholarships to which women are entitled under existing law. Specifically:

— While women are now 56% of undergraduates, one of the Commission’s proposals (included in the report after a 7-7 vote) would assume that women are 50% of the student body at all schools – regardless of the facts.

— Another proposal would not count “non-traditional” students, who are overwhelmingly women.

— A third proposal would allow schools to pretend that they are giving female students athletic opportunities by counting “ghost slots” on teams – slots never actually filled by any female student. Still another would allow schools to pretend that they are not giving athletics opportunities to men by not counting walk-ons — who are actually receiving the benefits of sports participation at the school.

— The Commission would allow the use of “interest surveys” to limit women’s opportunities by forcing them to prove they are interested in sports before giving them a chance to play.

— The Commission would authorize private slush funds that increase the financial support for men’s teams at the expense of women’s teams.

— Finally, the Commission gave a blank check to the Secretary of Education to identify “additional ways of demonstrating compliance with Title IX” that could include new ways to weaken Title IX that were not even presented to the Commissioners.

From the outset, the Commission’s process was flawed and it was purposefully designed to support the radical recommendations that were made. For more information, please see “The Commission’s Proposals Would Radically Alter Title IX and Substantially Disadvantage Women and Girls” at www.nwlc.orgunder What’s New or call 202-588-5180.

Current Title IX athletics policies are credited with greatly expanding women’s and girls’ opportunities to play sports and have not reduced opportunities for men and boys. Since Title IX, the number of female college athletes has increased from 31,852 in 1972 to 150,916 – almost a five-fold increase. At the same time, men’s participation opportunities, teams and budgets have all increased. The current Title IX policies have been in place through both Democratic and Republication Administrations and have been upheld by every appellate court to review them. The Bush Administration should reject the Commission’s proposals and instead more strongly enforce existing Title IX policies.

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