One of the main focuses of the NCAA is gender equity and fostering an environment that is free from gender bias or discrimination. Through both state and federal law, NCAA-member institutions are bound by law to treat genders equally. There are specific requirements under federal law and specifically Title IX to ensure gender equity at all NCAA-member institutions. If you have Title IX questions, then it is important to speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
What is Gender Equity?
If a collegiate athletics program wants to be considered gender-equitable, then it must have the players on both the men's and women's teams agree that the overall program of the other gender is fair and equitable. The NCAA Gender Equity Taskforce first defined gender equity and further stated that no individual in intercollegiate athletics should face discrimination on the basis of gender.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal law that was passed in 1972. Its main function is to prohibit discrimination based on sex in education programs that receive federal financial aid. Basically, every institution receives federal financial aid, so most all schools are bound by the requirements of Title IX.
Specifically, Title IX states: “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.”
Who is Affected by Title IX?
Title IX affects any and all schools that receive any type of federal funding. Title IX applies to both public and private schools. Even if a private university does not directly receive federal funding from the federal government, they must abide by Title IX if they accept any federal financial aid used by their students. Title IX affects almost all private universities across the country that accept federal financial aid used by their students.
How are Athletics Affected by Title IX?
Title IX is very prevalent in collegiate athletics. Collegiate athletics programs are designated as educational programs and activities by Title IX. Title IX applies to collegiate athletics in three main ways:
- Participation: Title IX requires schools to give both men and women the equal opportunity to participate in collegiate sports.
- Scholarships: Title IX requires schools to give both men and women student-athletes athletic scholarships proportional to their participation.
- Other requirements: Title IX requires men and women student-athletes to equal treatment in things such as equipment, supplies, scheduling, medical facilities and services, and other benefits needed to properly participate in a collegiate sport.
Title IX can affect athletics by the addition and loss of collegiate teams due to the necessary balance of men's and women's athletics teams.
How are Schools Affected by Title IX?
While it may seem that Title IX only affects athletics, it applies to virtually everything related to education. For a school to remain in compliance with the requirements of Title IX, they must do several things, including:
- Giving both male and female student-athletes athletics scholarship money that is proportional to their participation;
- Equally treating both male and female student-athletes in the following provisions: equipment, scheduling, travel and per diem, tutoring, coaching, locker rooms and practice facilities, housing and dining, publicity, support services, and recruitment; and
- Provide participation opportunities appropriately for both men and women, demonstrate a continued effort towards expanding programs for the underrepresented sex, and continue to help accommodate their interests and abilities.
While Title IX may feel like it is specifically geared towards women, it is a law that is designed for the equal protection of both men and women. If men or women are underrepresented in a specific area or program, Title IX requires that improvements are made to help achieve gender equity.
How to Check If Your School is Title IX Compliant
Pursuant to the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, all colleges and universities must publish a yearly report detailing athletics participation by men and women, scholarships, sports program budgets and expenses, and the salaries of coaches. If you would like access to this information, then you should contact your school's athletics department and make a request.
To determine if a school is Title IX compliant, a comparison of the total program must take place. This means that men's sports, in general, must be compared to women's sports in general. Men's and women's collegiate teams do not have to mirror each other to be compliant under the provisions of Title IX. The same amount of money does not need to be spent between men's and women's sports due to the cost differences in certain sports. While one sport may require more equipment and expense, both men's and women's athletes must receive a comparable level of quality of equipment.
Title IX does not require that schools offer identical athletics programs for men and women. Title IX instead requires that schools offer athletics programs that meet the interests and abilities of both men and women. Just because a school does not offer identical programs or benefits does not make them non-compliant with Title IX, the main standard to weigh is whether the men's and women's programs that are being compared receive the same level of service, facilities, equipment, etc. No sports are excluded from the application of Title IX.
Who Enforces the Requirements of Title IX?
All schools are required to follow federal law. When there are allegations of Title IX violations, the U.S. Department of Education enforces the requirements of Title IX through the Office of Civil Rights. The Office of Civil Rights is given the authority to make policy regarding the enforcement of federal regulations by the Department of Education. In 1979, the Office of Civil Rights developed an intercollegiate athletics policy and later developed the Title IX Athletics Investigator's Manual, which was issued in 1990. This manual has since helped school athletics departments deal with issues related to Title IX enforcement and compliance. If someone files a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights relating to a violation of Title IX, then that person's identity will remain confidential.
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm is the Right Choice
If you are an NCAA student-athlete who has questions related to gender equity, then it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of student-athletes across the country who are facing Title IX issues. Call us today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring the Lento Law Firm is the right choice to help you receive the equal protection of Title IX and other issues related to gender equity.