Title IX Tantrums

Feb 182003
Authors: Jason Graziadei

CSU’s Athletic Department strives for equity in athletic funding

Thirty years have passed since the inception of Title IX, the act that prohibits gender discrimination in education at federally funded schools, yet many institutions are still not in compliance.

CSU is one of those schools.

Like many other universities across the country, CSU has made large strides toward complying with the guidelines of Title IX, and in fact, has been one of the more successful institutions in that regard. But in terms of the few numerical requirements mandated by Title IX, CSU is still working toward meeting those goals.

Title IX is an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and specifies that educational institutions that receive federal money cannot discriminate on the basis of sex. Under current law, college-level athletics are considered an educational activity. While Title IX applies to all aspects of education, collegiate sports are most often associated with that law, and are most often the area of controversy.

CSU’s situation

Although CSU offers nine varsity women’s sports compared with only six on the men’s side, there is still a disproportionate amount of funding that goes to men’s sports in a variety of areas.

According to documents released under the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, which requires colleges and universities to release financial data on their athletic department, CSU does not comply with several requirements of Title IX.

Some of the more glaring disparities from the 2000-2001 academic year include the fact that women’s sports at CSU received only 30.25 percent of the total athletic operating budget – only 24 percent of the recruiting budget. In addition, the head coaches of men’s sports averaged $43,000 more in average annual salary than their counterparts in women’s sports. Although these areas are not regulated by Title IX, they do paint a picture of how equitable the athletic department is with its budget.

CSU does fail one of the few numerical requirements of Title IX, which states that the percentage of scholarships going to women must be within one percentage point of the proportion of female athletes. Although females make up 44.75 percent of all athletes at CSU, they only receive 41.63 percent of the scholarship budget, making the difference in percentages a minus-3.13, and, more importantly, putting CSU in violation of Title IX.

According to CSU Assistant Athletic Director Marsha Smeltzer, the scholarship situation is complicated, changes from year to year, and is something the athletic department struggles with each year.

“What’s happening is that a large number of the women are getting partial scholarships compared to a large number of the men getting full scholarships,” Smeltzer said. “There are what we call ‘head count’ scholarships, where you get the entire thing: tuition, fees, room, board and books. On the men’s side, because you have football and men’s basketball, who compose a large number of those head counts, 81 percent of the scholarships of the men’s side are head counts. On the women’s side, only about 40 percent of our scholarships are head counts, so less than half the time is a women going to get a full scholarship.”

The Office of Civil Rights, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, is the institution that monitors compliance of Title IX. Technically, the OCR has the ability to file complaints against schools that are in violation of Title IX requirements, and ultimately deny an institution its federal funding if it is found to be non-compliant. However, according to Donna Lopiano, Executive Director of the Women’s Sports Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to ensuring equal rights for women in sports, the OCR does not have the finances or the resources to pursue all the schools not in compliance.

“Title IX is one of the most flexible civil rights laws on the books. There’s very little numerical regulations that must be complied with,” Lopiano said. “What makes it difficult is that the Office of Civil Rights will allow variances if the school can demonstrate non-gender based fluctuations.”

In other words, schools that are in violation of some parts of Title IX are allowed to work with the OCR toward improving their financial equity instead of receiving any type of penalty. Ever since 1992, when CSU was forced to reinstate its varsity softball team after players sued for Title IX violations, the school’s athletic department has been in such a deal with the OCR.

“Right now, the way that we are currently sitting, is that we still have an agreement with the OCR that we’re working on related to financial aid,” Smeltzer said. “What you do is you work out an agreement with OCR that says what we’re going to try to do over the next however-many-years to get in compliance. We report to them every year with major documentation of every scholarship we have.”

Since 1992, when CSU was singled out on the softball issue, the work of the athletic department and CSU President Albert Yates have greatly improved CSU’s standing with regards to Title IX compliance.

The university was even praised by the OCR in August 2000 when the federal agency said CSU was in compliance of Title IX and was free from federal monitoring.

The director of the Denver OCR said at the time, “What has been accomplished is very significant, lasting and a tribute to all.”

But since 2000, because of changes in athletic budgets, CSU has again fallen out of compliance.

However, CSU is not the only Colorado school in violation of Title IX. The Air Force Academy, which does not offer athletic scholarships, is the only Colorado school that technically fulfills all the requirements of Title IX.

Yet the OCR does not have any sort of definition for what exactly would warrant a lawsuit or action taken against a particular school.

“The OCR does not have any numerical quotas that apply to judging compliance in Civil Rights cases,” said Carlin Hertz, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education. “The Department of Education doesn’t comment, nor would it be appropriate to comment, on pending litigation or make comments regarding the ‘threats’ of litigations.”

There are no specific rules for equitable funding in such things as recruiting budgets, operating budgets and coaching salaries. But taken as a whole, these statistics are one way to look at what a school gives its men’s and women’s programs.

Smletzer stressed that CSU’s numbers change from year to year, and they are often skewed when a women’s team needs to only recruit one or two players rather than six or seven.

“We take a look at our (recruiting budget) and ask ‘Why is that the case?’ and we want to make sure they are explainable reasons,” Smeltzer said. “One of the things we always have to look at is that with football on the men’s side, you’re going to be replacing at least 25 players just in that one sport every year.

“When it comes to coaches salaries, they fall under Title XII which is equitable pay, so coaches salaries are based upon years of experience, college degrees and the other duties they are responsible for. But yes, I would say on the average men’s salaries are still higher, but we have to consider we do have some younger coaches on the female side. So it may take a while to get caught up there,” Smeltzer added.

Another way schools can comply with the federal guidelines of Title IX is by measuring the proportion of athletes who are women and comparing it to the proportion of undergraduates who are women. At a minus-5.15, CSU has a negative difference and does not comply with Title IX by this method, either.

“When you start putting all the pieces on the chess board, it reasonable to say that I don’t think CSU is in compliance,” Lopiano said.

But CSU is far from alone in its Title IX status. In fact, by using one method of judging compliance, CSU ranked third out of the Mountain West Conference’s eight schools in providing scholarships for women.

So CSU may still have work to do in order to technically comply with Title IX, but the university is not close to being a major culprit in the NCAA’s quest to bring equity to gender-based athletic funding.

(Should this be attributed?) YES – BECKY

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