Title IX, Sex Discrimination, and Intercollegiate Athletics: A Legal Overview Page: 4 of 20
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Title IX, Sex Discrimination, and
Intercollegiate Athletics: A Legal Overview
Enacted over three decades ago, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs
or activities.' Although the Title IX regulations bar recipients of federal financial
assistance from discriminating on the basis of sex in a wide range of educational
programs or activities, such as student admissions, scholarships, and access to
courses, the statute is perhaps best known for prohibiting sex discrimination in
Indeed, the provisions regarding athletics have proved to be one of the more
controversial aspects of Title IX. At the center of the debate is a three-part test that
the Department of Education (ED) uses to determine whether institutions are
providing nondiscriminatory athletic participation opportunities for both male and
female students. Proponents of the existing regulations point to the dramatic
increases in the number of female athletes in elementary and secondary school,
college, and beyond as the ultimate indicator of the statute's success in breaking
down barriers against women in sports. In contrast, critics contend that the Title IX
regulations unfairly impose quotas on collegiate sports and force universities to cut
men's teams in order to remain in compliance.2 Critics further argue that the decline
in certain men's sports, such as wrestling, is a direct result of Title IX's emphasis on
proportionality in men's and women's college sports, and in 2002 the National
Wrestling Coaches Association filed a suit contending that the Title IX policy is
unlawful.3 This lawsuit, however, was dismissed by a federal judge in 2003,4 and an
appeals court upheld the dismissal in a ruling issued on May 14, 2004.5
The debate over Title IX has escalated recently, partly in response to ED's
decision in June 2002 to appoint a commission to study Title IX and to recommend
1 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.
2 June Kronholz, College Coaches Press Bush on Title IX, The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 27,
2002, at A4.
3 Lori Nickel and Nahal Toosi, Title IX Is Taken To Task, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
January 17, 2002 at Cl.
4 Nat'l Wrestling Coaches Ass'n v. Dep't of Educ., 263 F. Supp. 2d 82 (D.D.C. June 11,
5 Nat'l Wrestling Coaches Ass'n v. Dep't of Educ., Civ. No. 03-5169, 2004 U.S. App.
LEXIS 9426 (D.C. Cir. May 14, 2004).
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Feder, Jody. Title IX, Sex Discrimination, and Intercollegiate Athletics: A Legal Overview, report, May 24, 2004; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc855734/m1/4/: accessed January 16, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.