HOPE HIGHLIGHTS – JUNE 21
By Abigail Hope

DOES TITLE IX NEED TWEEKING

The announcement that Clemson University was set to add NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse and Gymnastics to their program struck two different chords for me. Let me start with the positive, the addition of two new championship-level programs at a respectable university like Clemson is incredible for growing women’s sports and may very well give coaches an easiest recruiting pitch. However, if men’s lacrosse is not simultaneously added, I feel as though it never will be and that is almost counter-productive for growing the game. The problem? Title IX. 

Title IX is a federal law that’s part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, that exists to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. In college sports, this means that any institution, both public and private, that receives federal funds, must be in compliance with Title IX regulations. Title IX regulations can be broken down into three basic pillars: participation, scholarships, and other benefits like equipment, travel, and scheduling. In short, Title IX ensures that male and female collegiate athletes have the same access to benefits and are treated fairly. 

In order for an institution to be in compliance with Title IX, it must pass one of the three following tests.  

“An institution may:

  1. Provide participation opportunities for women and men that are substantially proportionate to their respective rates of enrollment of full-time undergraduate students;
  2. Demonstrate a history and continuing practice of program expansion for the underrepresented sex;
  3. Fully and effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.”

Essentially, what all of this means is NOT that institutions must provide the same dollar amount in female and male scholarships, but they must prove that they are actively creating opportunities for both sexes, which is a qualitative measurement that leaves a lot of grey area. 

Football powerhouses like Clemson have ninety-plus athletes on the roster, many of which are on scholarships. Without a female equivalent to football, the Title IX seesaw is already weighing heavy on the male side. As a result, these schools cut less popular male sports and add female sports. We all know that football revenue funds the entire athletic department, so why not just take football out of the equation in the outdated Title IX regulations.? What tends to happen when institutions fall out of regulation with the male to female athlete ratio, less popular male sports like swimming or crew end up getting cut. This way, institutions could offer every sport there is demand for, without harming less popular male sports like wrestling or tennis along with the ones I already described, which draw the short end of the stick when schools need to balance the seesaw. 

Why don’t institutions offer any sport there is demand and funding for? The Title IX laws were originally written to prohibit discrimination based on education, and they were written in the 70s. The regulations should be revisited and football should be taken out of the equation.