Title IX, which was passed in 1972 and prohibits sex discrimination
in educational institutions receiving federal funds is now facing
pressure from some organizations to weaken its standards. Because some colleges say they have been forced to eliminate male athletic programs in order to comply with the Title IX standards the Commission
on Opportunity in Athletics is working to change the manner in which
some schools and universities comply and enforce Title IX.
Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige created the commission last
summer when disputes over Title IX erupted. Organizations
argued that Title IX unfairly limit athletic opportunities for men (while creating new opportunities for women.)
The National Wrestling Coaches Association filed a lawsuit last year
challenging the current status of Title IX, saying that smaller sports,
such as wrestling, swimming, and gymnastics have suffered under
the compliance with the federal law.
Women-lead organizations that oppose changes to the enforcement
of Title IX argue that the recommendations the commission made
would have negative effects on the advancement of women's
athletics. The status of women in sports has improved since 1972;
the number of female athletes at the high school level increased
from 294,000 to 2.8 million between 1972 to 2000. The number of
female athletes at the college level increased from 30,000 women to
nearly 151,000 in 2000.
According to the Washington Post, the commission agreed on a
number of recommendations on January 30, which would
appropriately divide the athletic scholarships between men and
women. The board also backed the idea of using surveys as a
means of determining the interest men and women on campus
have in varsity level sports. The commission endorsed the
recommendation to not include "non-traditional students-those over
the age of 23" in the calculations to determine the proportion of
female athletes in a school.
The commission considered but rejected one recommendation that
would allow schools to mandate as few as 43 percent of the slots
on their varsity sports teams for women, though women make up
55.5 percent of the student body.
The current standards set by Title IX allow universities to comply with
the law by showing that the school has an equal ratio of male and
female athletes to the men and women in the campus, or by
demonstrating that the school has added athletic opportunities for
women in the university history or confirming that women's needs
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