Understanding the Importance of Title IX

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In 1972, a law was enacted to help prevent gender discrimination in the United States educational athletic system. This law, known commonly as Title IX, gives each gender equal rights to educational programs, activities, and federal financial assistance.

Before Title IX of the Education Amendment was signed in 1972, there were roughly 310,000 women and girls playing sports in colleges and high schools throughout the nation. Thanks to the law, there are currently over three million women and girls playing interscholastic sports today, a number that continues to grow each year. The benefits due to the passage of that law, especially for interscholastic sports in general, have been immense but unfortunately, Title IX is often easily misunderstood.

The infographic below, created by Ohio University’s Online Masters in Athletic Administration program, takes a closer look at Title IX to educate and inform those who many not be familiar with this often misunderstood law.

Understanding The Importance of Title IX infographic

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Increase in School Sports Participation for Females

Title IX initiated a large swing in the number of females participating in school sports. During the 1971-1972 school year, only 7 percent of, or 295,015, girls in school were involved in high school sports. In the 2013-2014 school year, 3.2 million, or 41 percent of girls were participating in high school sports.

Budget, Financial Aid, and Gender

Finances surrounding academic athletics have also grown exponentially since the enactment of Title IX. College athletic scholarship opportunities and budgets have increased largely since the beginning of Title IX, however, more improvements could be made. In 1972, a mere 2 percent of school athletic budgets went towards female participants and very few scholarships in athletics existed for women. In 2010, 40 percent of academic athletic budgets were dedicated to women. However, women made up 53 percent of the student body. In 2010, in Division 1 schools, 48 percent of total athletic scholarships went to women.

Key Moments since Title IX

Several moments to note have happened since President Nixon signed Title IX into law. The year 1975 saw the final Title IX regulations approved by congress. Then in 1978, Ann Meyers became the first woman to sign a contract for an MBA team.

In 1979, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare released a policy interpretation and expounded on three specific sectors of compliance within Title IX; participation, scholarships, and other benefits, like coaching and support services, facilities, and equipment. The interpretation stated that schools must show a fair proportionality of male to female student athletes, a history of program growth for the least represented gender, and also that they must provide for the interest and abilities of both genders. The aforementioned is known as the three-prong test.

The first NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship was played in 1982, in which Louisiana Tech won over Cheney State 76-62. In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled that Title IX only applied to federally funded programs within an institution, thereby eliminating most athletic program Title IX coverage. However, the Civil Rights Restoration Act passes, even over President Reagan’s veto in 1988. This act restored Title IX in its original form. In 1991, the United States won the first Women’s World Cup. In the case Franklin V. Gwinnett County Public Schools, the Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that monetary damages are available due to Title IX. In the same year, the NCAA published a gender-equity study revealing widespread sex discrimination in athletic programs. As a result, 1994 saw the passing of the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, which requires schools to disclose information known about the gender breakdown of intercollegiate athletic programs.

Females in Sports: What is the Current State?

For the 25th consecutive year, high school sports participation has increased, with nearly 7.8 million students participating in a sport. Sports participation has been on the rise for both genders. However, there are coaches and athletic directors who believe that Title IX negatively impacts male-oriented sports programs. Despite their opinions, sports teams of both men and women are growing in numbers. In 1981, there were 4,776 NCAA women’s teams and 6,843 men’s teams. In 2013 those number had increased dramatically as 10,173 NCAA women’s teams existed and there were 8,905 men’s teams. Currently, about 48 percent of athletic scholarships are awarded to female recipients. This means $480 million out of $1 billion goes to women.

What is the Future of Title IX?

Although gender equality has come a long way since Title IX was enacted in 1972, we still have a ways to go. Some recent improvements include revised rules from the NCAA in August of 2014 that gave 65 big-conference schools more autonomy to give their athletes additional scholarship monies and medical care. This means that each school can approve the rules that apply directly to them, including paying college athletes more than current scholarship rules allow for.

Interestingly, as the number of female athletes has grown since 1972, the number of female coaches has decreased inversely. In 1974, over 90 percent of coaches were female, whereas in 2013, only about 40 percent are female.

Learn more about earning your online Master’s in Athletic Administration from Ohio University.