Most of the prominent Title IX issues revolve around college sports. Because Title IX prohibits sexual discrimination, it forces colleges to treat men's and women's sports teams identically, or at least similarly. Ignoring, for a moment, the fact that men's sports teams draw exponentially more ticket sales and revenue than women's sports teams, the complications that this requirement creates are widespread, nuanced, and indicative of the difficulties inherent in other Title IX situations like sexual misconduct.
An ongoing situation at the University of Iowa highlights these issues.
Donated Sports Recruitment Flights Heavily Favor Men's Teams
Recruitment for college sports teams has become increasingly competitive. Coaches need to travel to other parts of the U.S. – and sometimes even other countries – to recruit talented prospects, and then quickly return for practice or an upcoming game. To facilitate this, colleges frequently reach out to wealthy donors or alumni and ask if the coach can use a private plane to make the trip. Chartering a plane allows the coach to recruit the prospect with impressive luxury and avoid the inconvenient schedules of commercial airlines. Donors can deduct the expense from their taxes.
An investigation by The Gazette in Iowa has found that, over the course of two years, there were 54 donated charter flights for coaches at the University of Iowa, and only one of them went to a women's coach.
Civil Rights Department Conducting Title IX Investigation
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights has been investigating the situation since at least 2016. Many of the women's sports teams have claimed they have not received close to the recruiting budgets that men's teams have received. Some of this discrepancy can be reflected in the donations received by the men's teams, including the value of the chartered flights for recruitment visits.
Title IX requires donations to one gender's sports to cause institutional money to be shuffled to the other gender's sports teams.
Title IX and Private Donations
But these are private donations from donors who are not affiliated with the school. Shouldn't private donors have the power to control how their donation is used and spent? If their donation to any sports team, like the chartered use of their private jet, only triggers an identical loss of institutional money to a team of the opposite gender to appease Title IX, then the federal law is making donations to a specific college sports team a worthless endeavor.
Joseph D. Lento: A National Title IX Attorney and Advisor
This issue just highlights how far Title IX's edicts can reach into the private sector and how desperately the system needs refinement. College students who have been accused of sexual misconduct can find similar problems with how Title IX's demands impact their case: Their school cares little for their due process rights in order to satisfy Title IX's requirement that the institution frowns mightily on sexual discrimination.
Joseph D. Lento is a national Title IX attorney and advisor who can help students afflicted by the burdens of Title IX. Contact him online or call him at (888) 535-3686.