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One Practical Modification for Title IX

Tony Dziepak
February 2003

In response to the recent Commission on Opportunity in Athletics[1], I am proposing one practical method of how college athletics might operate in order to make male and female athletics equally selective.

The concept of gender neutrality is a ratio such that fraternal mixed-gender twins of equal high school athletic talent and preparation will face similar opportunities in college. This is explained in detail in my original article, Title IX vs. OCR.

The standard of gender neutrality is equivalent to the condition of equal selectivity. We are all familiar with the concept of selectivity when it comes to college admissions. We know that there are the top colleges, including ivy league colleges, which can be the most selective in the students they choose to admit. Many states have several public institutions of higher learning with a gradient of varying admissions selectivity, starting with the flagship comprehensive university down to the regional colleges. THe local junior colleges are often the least selective, in many cases offering an open admissions policy.

What Title IX attempts to do is to make all programs equally selective. This means that the degree of selectivity is equal for males and females.

As I have written in my previous article, The Title IX Solution, the best standard to use to determine the gender-neutral ratio is the NCAA initial eligibility applicant pool. This is the standard that the NCAA should strive to achieve as a whole. However, the burden of this standard needs to be shared fairly among all NCAA member schools. It does not necessarily follow that every school should be asked to match this ratio without some consideration of the gender ratio of the general student body. This is especially important for schools at the extremes: the all- or mostly women's liberal arts colleges, and the military academies.

While the ideal solution might be to create a formula relating enrollment to a requirment using an S-shaped curve the more tenable solution I put forward is more the following:

To achieve Prong one, women's athletic participation must be at least:

For universities with a full-time (FT) ratio less than the NCAA member-wide FT ratio, the lesser of a) the institution's enrollment OR b) the ratio of the NCAA initial eligibility applicant pool.

For universities with a FT ratio greater than the NCAA member-wide ratio, the institution's enrollment minus the difference between the total NCAA-member enrollment and the NCAA initial eligibility applicant pool.

The old and proposed standards for Prong I are compared in a graph in this Excel Chart. This particular example assumes that the NCAA initial eligibility clearinghouse applicant pool is 40% female, and that total NCAA-member institution enrollment is 55% female. However, the reader is free to change the enrollment and applicant pool values (in the yellow boxes), and the graph will automatically adjust.

For schools with very low female enrollment, such as the academies, the standard will still be to have female athletic participation match enrollment. All academies and most schools with low female enrollment have no difficulty with achieving this standard.

Schools with female enrollment below the NCAA-wide average will now have to achieve only the clearinghouse applicant pool ratio. However, schools with above-average female enrollment will have to add an additional percent of female participation for each percent their enrollment exceeds the national average.

An important feature of this formula is that it automatically adjusts, year to year, for changes in both female enrollment and relative (female-to--male) interest. If relative interest increases, the gap between enrollment-proportionality and clearinghouse-proportionality lessens. If both female enrollment and female interest increases by the same amount, the gap stays constant, but the gap floor raises. Finally, if female enrollment increases without a correspondoing increase in relative interest, the gap deepens, giving a break to schools with high female enrollment.

I hope that the Commission will seriously consider this solution. It still uses proportionality as a standard, but it brings in the element of interest (via different rates of initial eligibility pool applicants for men and women) into Prong I. More importantly, the new standards are flexible--they will automatically adjust for changes in female enrollment and for changes in female interest.


[1] Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, U.S. Department of Education

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