Title IX refers to the United States law amendment Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. It is regarded as landmark legislation banning sex discrimination in schools, whether this relates to academics or sport. Title IX declares: "No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid."
The amendment has helped promote gender equality in classrooms and has been applied particularly to the funding and support for college level women's academic sports programs. Title XI has generated controversy, particularly in relation to athletics in schools. In his book A New Season: Using Title IX to Reform Sports (2003) Brian Porto examines the impact the amendment has had with an emphasis on the popularization and advancement of women's college sports. He contends that "big" college sports - like football and basketball in large state universities - and college athletes are treated as revenue and popularity earners to the detriment of the sports and the athletes. Despite this, the expense of participating in these sports forces universities to compete for federal funding programs. Porto argues that Title IX funding has a role as a useful instrument in diverting the focus of academic sports from a commercial enterprise to a more participative extra-curricular activity in an academic setting where both male and female students participate.
Porto cites statistics of the impact of Title IX during the first 30 years of its enactment. He recaps that "in 1972, 170,000 men, but less than 30,000 women, played sports sponsored by their respective colleges" but "by June 23, 2002, the 30th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX, 209,000 men and 151,000 women played college sports." Porto argues that while this achievement is not a result solely of the amendment, the significant contribution of the federal funding requirements in instigating gender-equality and encouraging female athlete participation cannot be overlooked.
Porto contends that several decades after its introduction, the Title IX amendment still carries significant potential in improving college athletics, namely by helping to "bring fiscal sanity, academic integrity, and personal responsibility to college sports by encouraging colleges to replace the commercial model with the participation model." In his view, the stated requirement of the legislation for equal support of men's and women's college sports and the obvious inability of colleges to fund women's sports as they do the popular men's disciplines acts as an important brake against commercialization. In other words, the expensive compliance with Title IX requirements should gradually diminish appetites in lavish spending on major men's sports such as football and basketball.
Porto admits, however, that the first casualties of the Title IX requirements have been "non-revenue" men's sports such as gymnastics, swimming and wrestling. This criticism is voiced widely and loudly in college athletic departments and has been used to portray the Title IX impact as unwitting discrimination against male athletes. In the 2004 article Title Ix: the Technical Knockout for Men's Non-revenue Sports, college sports analyst David Bentley attacks the amendment, focusing on wrestling as the collateral victim of universities trying to cut men's athletic programs to comply with the proportionality requirement. His criticism centers on the so-called "three-prong test," which is the standard assessment tool used to determine an educational institution compliance with Title IX. The "three prongs" basically state that an institution must ensure proportional opportunities for men and women based on student enrollment, demonstrate a history of adding women's athletic opportunities and accommodating fully the interests and abilities of either gender to ensure participation.
Bentley argues that both the regulating body and universities rely almost solely on the "prong one" proportionality principle with the unintended consequence of deciding to cut men's opportunities rather than add female opportunities. He proposes that instead, universities, regulators and courts should focus on the fulfillment of the other two prongs and review the "equal protection" aspect inherent in the amendment's intent. Bentley views the Title IX amendment as similar in intent to the U.S. Equal Pay Act; namely that women's salaries and opportunities should be raised to equal men's and not the other way around. In his opinion, to prevent men's "non revenue" college sports from losing out, the above mentioned clarification must always apply when decisions are made with respect to Title IX.