College Sports: White House Tweaks Title IX Rules

Article excerpt

Schools can no longer rely on a survey for female students about college sports to show that they are compliant with Title IX requirements, Biden announced Tuesday.

Colleges can no longer rely on a survey for female students - designed to gauge their interest in athletics - to show that they are compliant with Title IX requirements.

Vice President Joe Biden made the announcement Tuesday about the so-called model survey. The new policy essentially rescinds a 2005 rule that critics said allowed colleges to duck out of the gender- equity law.

"Making Title IX as strong as possible is a no-brainer," Mr. Biden said. "What we're doing here today will better ensure equal opportunity in athletics and allow women to realize their potential - so this nation can realize its potential."

While many women's groups and the NCAA laud the change, others say it is a disappointing move that pushes colleges even more toward quotas and number requirements in athletics. A lack of flexibility often means that less-popular sports for both men and women simply get cut.

Title IX demands gender equity for programs that receive federal education money. Under it, colleges have had three ways to show they are compliant when it comes to sports: demonstrating that women's participation is proportional to their enrollment, showing that the school is expanding the number of sports teams for women (which defers the need for proportional compliance by several years), or showing that the school is meeting the interests and abilities of women on campus.

Traditionally, showing "proportionality" has been the most widely used method. Many colleges see it as the most foolproof way to avoid a lawsuit.

The 2005 rule allowed schools to meet the requirements of the third prong by using an e-mailed survey to female students, asking them about their athletic interests. No response was considered to indicate a lack of interest, which essentially meant that the college in question had fewer requirements placed on it.

"The 2005 policy that was withdrawn today was very damaging," says Neena Chaudhry, senior counsel for the National Women's Law Center. "It gave schools an easy way out: It gave them a loophole for them to comply. Today's policy restores the law and requires schools to look at a whole host of factors and prove they're satisfying women's interests. …