Rod Paige, the Education Secretary
Established the Commission on Opportunity in athletics in mid 2002. COA as the commission is abbreviated is tasked with ensuring fairness for all athletes in college by finding ways of better enforcement and increased opportunities for the beneficiaries. COA’s main purpose was to gather information, have it analyzed and get input from the public with the aim of making the application of Federal Standards used in ensuring that men and women, Boys together with girls have equal opportunity and their involvement in athletics.
In the COA’s management was Cynthia Cooper together with Ted Leland who served with Rod Paige as co-chairs. Cynthia, a former player with the Houston Comets, coached WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and was a member of the women’s basketball team in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics. Leland is Stanford University’s athletics director.
COA held 4 meeting in town halls in San Diego, Atlanta, Colorado Springs and Chicago. The aim of these meetings was to give the public a chance to put across their comments on Title IX at that time, in the past and the future. The beginning of 2003 saw the commission give its final report. In the report were 23 recommendations to the Education Secretary. Many of the recommendations were unanimous but the controversial ones saw an 8-5 vote pass them. The controversial votes were dealing with the compliance of athletes with no scholarship to 1st prong test together with the allowance of interest surveys for 3rd prong test compliance determination. Rod Paige however, declared that he would only consider the votes that were unanimously passed. These required the Education Department to:
* Show its continued and unwavering support to ensure that boys and girls, women plus men have equal opportunity.
* Ensure uniform enforcement of the statute across the US.
* Ensure that each of the 3 tests that governed compliance to the statute had equal weighting.
* Make sure that schools appreciate that the Education Department was not for the idea of cutting teams so as to adhere to the statute (Title IX, 2008).
Patsy T. Mink principally authored the education act that guarantees all people equal opportunity to education. The Act which was formulated in 1972 was formerly known as the Title IX of the Education Amendments and it generally states that nobody should be prevented from enjoying the benefits of a given education program or a given activity that has financial assistance from the Federal government based on their sex. Title IX greatest impact has been on athletics at both high school and college level although the original statute did not refer to athletics. The statute has a broad coverage from educational activities, complaints because of discrimination in math, science education, other academic life aspects for instance ability to use dormitory and other health care facilities. The same state is applicable to activities like cheer leaders, clubs and school bands, which are non-sport activities. The statute’s requirements however exempt sororities together with social fraternities like Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Boys State together with Girls State, which are specific to gender (Title IX, 2008).
The administration under Jimmy Carter came up with an interpretation of the statute when the Health, Education and Welfare Department came up with a “3 prong test” of compliance for institutions in the late 70’s. The three prongs are as shown below:
* 1st prong-that athletic opportunities provided be in proportion to the number of students enrolled or
* 2nd prong- exhibit increased athletic opportunities for the sex that is under represented or
* 3rd prong- the underrepresented sex interest together with ability should be accommodated wholly and effectively.
To demonstrate adherence to Title IX any institution that is a beneficiary of federal funds should show compliance with any of the three prongs (Title IX, 2008).
The Federal Government has issued new guidelines regarding the implementation of Title IX. Title IX has made it possible for increased women participation in sports but the new guidelines have allowed schools to reduce athletic opportunities if they find out from Internet surveys that the students are uninterested.
However, critics have been quick to point out that these new guidelines have significantly weakened the law that has been in place for the last 33 years, which had outlawed discrimination based on sex in schools that were recipients of federal funds.
According to the new guidelines, the Education Department has allowed schools to show that they are offering opportunities by asking the students to fill a form over the Internet to show their interest in sports. The schools are free to notify the students of a survey through e-mail. In the event that the surveys get few responses, the schools can still go a head and use the limited responses to argue against the formation of new teams in a given sport of the gender that is not properly represented. On its part the Department of Education agreed to the fact that response level may be low but continued to state that that will be interpreted as disinterest by the gender in question.