The National Women’s Law Center alleged USF and 29 other universities are in violation of Title IX Tuesday.
In letters sent out to the 30 institutions, the NWLC claims that women student-athletes aren’t receiving proportional benefits. In this year alone, they claim women athletes are losing out on $6.5 million in athletic scholarships.
The NWLC letters are sent just days before the 30th anniversary of Title IX on Sunday. The legislation states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
“Thirty years after Title IX, our young women are still being shortchanged,” Marcia D. Greenberger, NWLC co-president said. “Sex discrimination in athletic scholarships has a harmful and practical impact on female students and their families who are trying to make ends meet while also paying for college tuition. We hope these schools will come forward to fulfill their legal obligation to their female athletes and treat them fairly.”
While Title IX didn’t directly address sports, athletics has become the biggest area of debate for the issue. As the NCAA states on its Web site, NCAA.org, Title IX has three principles as applied to collegiate athletics. First, participation must be equally available to both sexes. USF offers 14 varsity sports, seven for both men and women, in addition to numerous club-level sports, which do not receive scholarships. Second, scholarships must be proportional to the level of participation at the university. From information obtained from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, , USF has 224 male participants in its seven sports and 192 participants in its seven female sports. So, of the 416 total athletes participating at USF, 46 percent are female. However, total expenses for student aid given out allotted only $915,994 (40 percent) of its $2,284,045 for female student-athletes.
Last, Title IX seeks equality in other benefits, such as provisions for equipment, facilities and recruiting. At USF, $91,792 was spent on the recruitment of female athletes, while more than twice that number, $198,517 was spent on recruiting male athletes.
In addition to those two discrepancies, the NWLC is upset with the gap in scholarships. According to the NWLC, the average male scholarship at the 30 schools cited Tuesday is worth $7,875 while the average female scholarship is valued at $5,744. The NWLC says that erasing that $2,131 differential at all 30 schools would increase benefits for female student-athletes by $6.5 million this year alone.
At USF, operating expenses for the 14 varsity athletic teams cost $2,016,450. Of the total cost, 34 percent ($691,431) was expended on women’s teams. The total spent on men’s teams came to $1,325,019. Dividing the total operating costs by the number of participants, an average of $3,601 was spent per woman and $5,915 per man.
However, the Javits Amendment, enacted in 1974, provided that considering the differences in costs from sport to sport, that there doesn’t need to be an equal amount spent on both sexes. They only need equal quality of equipment and enough to cover the cost of team’s events.
In order to comply with Title IX, universities have to fit three criteria. First, equality must be shown in benefits, which include equipment, scheduling of games and practices, tutoring, coaching, travel per diems, support staff, recruitment and facilities. Second, scholarship dollars must be equivalent to male and female participation rates. Finally, ability to participate must be equal. There are three tests for participation, of which only one of the three needs to be met to satisfy the requirement. One test vaguely states that the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex be fully and effectively accommodated. Another test requires that the university demonstrate a history and continuing practice of program expansion for the underrepresented sex. USF would appear to comply with that test by adding four women’s sports (soccer, track and field, cross country and sailing) in the last 17 years in addition to football and men’s track and field. However, USF also eliminated men’s and women’s swimming and riflery since 1986. USF does not meet the third test. It states that participation should be substantially proportional to enrollment rates. Of the 35,561 students at USF, more than 59 percent (2112) are women, but with 192 female athletes, women make up 46 percent of USF student-athletes.
“As our investigation shows, we still need continued and greater enforcement of Title IX,” Greenberger said. “It takes a long time to root out this kind of persistent discrimination. Now is not the time to weaken the policies that have greatly expanded opportunities for student female athletes.”
Miami, Indiana, Northwestern, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Kansas State and Texas were among the other schools cited by the NWLC. Senior Associate Athletic Director Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy said she wouldn’t comment until she looked at all the information. USF Athletic Director Lee Roy Selmon couldn’t be reached for comment.