Sports Law Blog
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Monday, May 17, 2004
 

Title IX Deemed Non-Discriminatory: In a decision that keeps with previous precedent, a federal appeals court has ruled that Title IX does not discriminate against male athletes. On Friday, the DC Circuit ruled in National Wrestling Coaches Ass'n v. Dept. of Education that the plaintiffs failed to show that the anti-discrimination law directly caused a reduction in men's sports.

The court, following the reasoning of previous Title IX cases, held that the independent schools made the decisions to cut male athletic teams (rather than adding female teams), and thus, a move the law itself does not dictate. The court pointed to the 1996 and 2003 Clarifications of the 1979 Policy Interpretation of Title IX, both of which expressly declare that schools should not cut male teams in order to meet the standards of "substantial proportionality" in sports.

Of course, this ignores the reality of budgeting in college athletics. Almost all women's athletic programs, with the exception of a few basketball powerhouses, lose money. Thus, for schools to take on this extra burden, they must cut some programs that also lose money, such as men's wrestling, fencing, swimming and gymnastics. It is a zero-sum game and so male non-revenue sports are the losers. Many also blame football, with its incredibly high number of scholarships and large percentage of the athletic budget. But this is not the whole story, because in reality, football bankrolls most, if not all, of the other sports at a school.

So, is the answer less football, or less other male sports? This is unclear, but the courts have stated defiantly-- the scapegoat cannot be Title IX.

You can read the full opinion here.





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