ECON 4884 Seminar in Economics
27 March 2012
"No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid."
These 37 words make up Title IX of the Educational Amendments, one of the most powerful pieces of legislation to enter into law in the last 50 years; as Steve Wulf of ESPNW says, they were “37 words that would change everything” (Wulf, 2012, 1). This bill was implemented in 1972 with the simple goal of creating a more level academic playing field for women, but has had effects on much more than academics. One of the areas that has been most affected by Title IX is athletics, especially collegiate athletics. Prior to 1972, colleges and universities offered an average of 2.5 sports for females, female athletics earned only 2% of collegiate athletic budgets, and scholarships for female athletes did not exist (titleix.info). Nowadays, females’ sports offerings are on par with male offerings, they receive a much greater portion of colleges’ and universities’ athletic funds, and scholarships abound (Thelin, 2000, 395). Additionally, the number of women playing varsity college sports has increased by 622%. These changes were largely unexpected and unintentional when the bill was being crafted. In fact, when asked about the changes that Title IX has caused in athletics, Bernice “Bunny” Sandler, one of the Founding Mothers of Title IX, said, “The only thought I gave to sports when the bill was passed was, Oh, maybe now when a school holds its field day, there will be more activities for girls” (Wulf, 2012, 1).
Due to the drastic changes that have occurred as a result of Title IX and the ways in which those changes have been accomplished, the bill has been and continues to be an extremely controversial piece of legislation. One topic that has been discussed at length is the redistribution of income from athletic programs that has occurred as a result of Title IX. Many have speculated as to whether or not Title IX has caused strained the budgets of athletic departments due to a lack of revenue-generating women’s sports programs. Within this paper, I would like to examine the changes in revenue distribution that may occur if Title IX were not in place, discuss the efficiency vs. equity argument that surrounds the topic of distribution, and assess whether or not a removal of the bill would have positive or negative effects.
II. Title IX Breakdown
Although the bill itself is made up of only 37 words, they have been elaborated upon to clarify how Title IX applies to various fields and institutions. In terms of athletics, there are three broad areas of compliance: financial assistance to athletes, “other program” areas such as “treatment, benefits, and opportunities” for athletes, and “equal opportunity (equal effective accommodation of the interests and abilities of male and female athletes)” ().
Financial Assistance to Athletes This portion of the compliance test calls for financial proportionality—total aid must be substantially proportionate to the ratio of male and female athletes. This requirement caused a drastic shift in the distribution of athletic budgets between male and female programs. Prior to Title IX, women’s programs received only 2% of budgets, but that figure had increased to 14% in the first five years of the bill and has continued to increase ever since, though not as significantly as the initial change. This has not been an easy task for most colleges and universities due to the fact that women’s basketball is typically the only women’s sport that generates any revenue, and even basketball fails to turn a profit.
Other Program Areas These “other program areas” encompass a wide variety of things, including but not limited