Michael A. Leeds, Yelena Suris, and Jennifer Durkin
For all the controversy it has generated in the sports world, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments to the 1964 Civil Rights Act was not designed specifically to ensure gender equity in sports. Strictly speaking, Title IX prohibits institutions that receive federal financial assistance from excluding anyone from “any educational program or activity” on the basis of sex (see Educational Development Center, 1997; Seligman and Wahlbeck, 1999; and Zimbalist, 1999a). However, the impact of Title IX—and the controversy it has engendered—has been most evident in the sports realm. All agree that it has dramatically expanded athletic opportunities for girls and young women. Some go so far as to attribute American Olympic and World Cup triumphs, even the creation of two professional women's sports leagues—the WNBA in basketball and the WUSA in soccer—to Title IX. These advances have come at a high cost. Many colleges claim that the only way they could equalize opportunities for women and for men was by reducing opportunities for men. Several colleges have eliminated highly successful men's programs—such as the swimming and gymnastics teams at UCLA—and attributed their actions to Title IX (Lynch, 2001). Some sports, such as men's gymnastics and wrestling, are in danger of disappearing from college campuses, a trend some attribute to Title IX.
Despite or perhaps because of the fact that it seldom appears in any of the specific policies designed to comply with Title IX, intercollegiate football has figured prominently in the arguments surrounding gender equity in