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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Tuesday, June 18, 2002
11:30 PM

Title IX Warmup...As we approach the 30th anniversary of Title IX this weekend, let us wonder what kind of coverage the Washington Post will provide. There is a debate in the world of collegiate sports about whether Title IX as interpreted by various administrations, courts and universities has unfairly obliterated hundreds of mens' sports programs. Will credible authorities on both sides of this debate be represented in the Post?

There's no doubt that men's programs are disappearing, including Olympic-pedigreed wrestling and swimming teams and championship baseball teams. The question is whether this is happening because of a twisted quota-driven approach that the law specifically opposed. I say yes, and so does Jessica Gavora, in Tilting the Playing Field

P. 12:

Dayton, Ohio. Nate Studney was a junior on the wrestling team at Miami University of Ohio when news came that the 1998 season would be the team's last. Citing a budget deficit and pressure under Title IX to achieve "gender equity" in its sports program, the university announced that it was killing men's soccer, tennis and wrestling effective June 1. No woman at Miami had claimed she was discriminated against. No women's team had charged unequal treatment. It was simply a question of numbers. Because females comprised over 50% of Miami's undergraduates but only 42 percent of its athletes, the school was in danger of having "too few" women athletes--and, conversely, 'too many" men--under the current interpretation of title IX known as the "proportionality test." Something had to give. The three men's teams in question ate up just 1.7% of Miami's $1.05 million athletic budget, but they involved seventy-athletes. Removing them would balance the numbers and create the illusion of "gender equity"--at Miami--without adding a single female athlete."

Stories like these are told over and over again in her book.

Title IX says:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

As Gavora says, that covers a lot of ground. But legislators at the time were worried about quotas, so they added language barring quotas: (p. 19)

[Sen. Birch] Bayh and other supporters of Title IX, like the congressional sponsors of the Civil Rights Act eight years earlier, promised that nothing in the law would lead to sex quotas in schools. But skittish congressmen, remembering when Senator Hubert Humphrey promised to eat the pages of the 1964 Civil Rights Act if it turned out to allow "preferential treatment for any group," demanded the same protection in Title IX that Humphrey had included in the Civil Rights Act. So Representative Albert Quie, a Minnesota Republican, added a clause to the bill taken almost word for word from the Civil Rights Act... In June 1972, Congress passed Title IX, complete with this caveat: nothing [in the law] shall be interpreted to require any educational institution to grant preferential or disparate treatment to the members of one sex, on account of an imbalance which may exist with respect to the total number or percentage of persons of that sex participating in or receiving the benefits of any federally supported program or activity, in comparison with the total number or percentage of persons of that sex in any community, State, section, or other area.

How the clear intent of the law was derailed over the years is an important part of Gavora's book. But if the law were animate and reviewed the systematic dismantling of men's sports, I think it would say, "That is the opposite of what I said."

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