Title IX Brought Under Scrutiny

LEXINGTON, Ky. – U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige responded swiftly to a government recommendation that suggested tweaking Title IX, the 1972 law that protects from sexual discrimination in academic or other federal programs. Wednesday night, hours after the official report was delivered by the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, Paige released a statement saying that he would only consider the recommendations that were unanimously supported by the commission — potentially nixing eight of the 23 proposals. Despite striking down eight proposals — which were the most controversial — the report by the commission recommends that a retooling of the law go forward. “This report includes several recommendations unanimously agreed upon by all of the commissioners in public meetings,” Paige said in a statement. Retooling may include strengthening the enforcement of Title IX, giving equal weight to each of the three methods of compliance in the law and discouraging schools from the practice of cutting male sports teams in order to maintain impartiality. University of Kentucky women’s basketball coach Bernadette Mattox recently echoed the retooling sentiment. “Everything needs upgrading,” she said. “I think that if they see fit to change it, then it would be fine.” Liz McCaslin, a UK graduate student and the Southeastern Conference’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee representative, said there are many positives to Title IX and that it’s often misunderstood. “Once people are educated about Title IX, it won’t be much of a debate,” McCaslin said, “.It’s not just about not having women’s sports replicated for every men’s sport.” According to Title IX, colleges and universities must sustain the same proportion of male and female students to male and female athletes; exhibit the drive to expand female athletic opportunities; and demonstrate that female sports interests have been “fully and effectively accommodated” on campus. Among the recommendations that aren’t likely to be considered are allowing universities to ignore non-traditional students when providing sports opportunities, the counting of slots available to student athletes instead of the actual athletes and discounting and ignoring non-scholarship players