Travelers on the Title IX Compliance Highway: How Are Ohio's Colleges and Universities Faring?

Article excerpt

Abstract

As a measure of progress, the experiences today of women athletes in the state of Ohio are far different from those attending institutions of higher learning just after the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. But how different, and how much progress has been made? The purpose of this study was to assess the level of progress made by compiling and analyzing data available through the Equity in Athletics Disclosure reports filed by 61 junior colleges, four year colleges, and universities in the State of Ohio over a four year span of time for the academic years 2002-2006. (2) The template for this study was the report completed by the Women's Law Project examining gender equity in intercollegiate athletics in colleges and universities in Pennsylvania (Cohen, 2005), the first study of its kind. Similar to that effort, this study assesses the success with which intercollegiate athletic programs in. Ohio have collectively responded to the mandates of Title IX in areas of participation opportunities and financial allocations in the form of operating budgets, scholarship assistance, recruiting, and coaching. (3)

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Introduction

In the winter of 1973, Oberlin College, a member of the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC), allowed women to race alongside its men's swim team because there was no comparable team for women in the state at that time (DeSimone, 2006). After their first meet, Oberlin athletics director, Jack Scott, received a letter from the OAC informing him that a grievance had been filed by an unnamed member institution for violation of Article III Rule 1 of the OAC Constitution and Bylaws, which read in part, "... Every bona fide male undergraduate student ... is eligible to represent his college in intercollegiate athletic competition ..." (Brandt, 1992). The stance taken by Oberlin College on behalf of women athletes on their campus and the response of the OAC were signs of the times. So too, were the comments of Representative Stewart McKinney during a Congressional hearing focusing on the Title IX regulations in 1975, when he reported that "Ohio State spent 1,300 times more for their men's athletics program than for women's sports" (as reported in NWLC, 2007b, p. 7). As a measure of progress, the experiences today of women athletes in the state of Ohio are far different from those attending institutions of higher learning just after the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. But how different, and how much progress has been made?

As is the case with many other states in the Union, Ohio's colleges and universities remain sites where large questions pertaining to the equitable distribution of financial resources in support of the athletic education of female and male athletes remain contested. In 2007, Ohio University officials announced that in order to address a $4 million deficit in its athletic budget and to address Title IX compliance issues, men's swimming and diving, men's indoor and outdoor track, and women's lacrosse would be cut (O'Donnell & Munoz, 2007). At the University of Cincinnati, a complaint filed by female rowers in November of 2005 seeking redress for alleged inequities in funding for their program resulted in one of the most interesting and perhaps troubling institutional responses in recent years. Two years after the complaint was brought forward, Cincinnati administrators announced they were cutting the women's rowing program and replacing it with women's lacrosse, raising questions in the process regarding possible retaliation against the women rowers (Miller et al. v. University of Cincinnati, 2005; McNames, 2007; Rovito, 2006; Sexton, 2007).

The purpose of this study was to assess the level of progress made by compiling and analyzing data available through the Equity in Athletics Disclosure reports filed by 61 junior colleges, four year colleges, and universities in the state of Ohio over a four year span of time for the academic years 2002-2006. …