Butler U.’s Nuanced Title IX Compliance Situation

In today’s Indianpolis Star Tribune, op-ed contributor Daniel A. Cohen provides a solid analysis of the unusual situation Butler University has found itself in following an OCR compliance review. The school is now figuring out how to address two of the findings: There are less female athletes than male athletes, but more female athletes than male athletes receive scholarship money.

Cohen explains that resolution is trickier than it seems:

Butler is not required to provide athletic opportunities in proportion to its undergraduate gender ratio, which would comply with a Title IX test known as Prong One. Butler also could comply with this Title IX area by expanding women’s athletic opportunities (Prong Two) or by demonstrating that it is currently meeting the athletic interests and abilities of its female students (Prong Three). OCR has clearly stated that schools may comply with any one of these three prongs.

In fact, the vast majority of NCAA schools do not provide athletic opportunities in proportion to their undergraduate gender ratios. According to their published annual Title IX reports, 74.7 percent of all NCAA schools had a gap of 5 percent or more between their female students’ undergraduate ratio and athletic participation ratio in 2010-11.

Although it is discouraging that women remain significantly underrepresented in many athletic departments 40 years after Title IX’s passage, those schools are not necessarily violating Title IX.

You can read more of Daniel A. Cohen’s insightful piece here.

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