Title 9 - Leveling the Playing Field

March, 2017
  • Senator Bayh exercises with Title IX athletes at Purdue University (1970, courtesy of Library of Congress)
  • Congresswoman Patsy Mink extended Title 9 funding

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, addressed the existing inequity whereby female athletics programs at Universities/Colleges were poorly funded or not funded at all. Most young women at that time did not have the opportunity to receive an athletic scholarship to pay for their education. Most female programs had to rely on bake sales or weekend car washes to pay for uniforms, equipment and travel expenses. At that time, a majority of institutions of higher learning justified this lack of financial support by relegating female athletics programs as a leisure activity.

The Need for Action

Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana introduced an amendment to the 1965 Higher Education Act and it was no secret that Senator Bayh was a strong advocate for women’s rights. While introducing this amendment, Mr. Bayh made the case for this measure when he said, “We are all familiar with the stereotype of women as pretty things who go to college to find a husband, go on to graduate school because they want a more interesting husband, and finally marry, have children, and never work again. The desire of many schools not to waste a 'man's place' on a woman stems from such stereotyped notions. But the facts absolutely contradict these myths about the 'weaker sex' and it is time to change our operating assumptions."(118 Congress Record 5804,1972)

With that passionate statement, the amendment became law on June 23rd 1972. However, the implementation of the new law would be harder than anyone could anticipate. Tribulations and false starts were the norm when getting institutions to execute the law that was in place.

Implementation & Setbacks

1975- The Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) established guidelines and promised to take away federal funding if the new law wasn't adhered to.TItle 9 Timeline

1979- Further clarification of the law had to be strengthened so there would be no wiggle room for institutions who do not comply.

1984- A Christian liberal arts college, Grove City College, challenged the Title 9 amendment to the United State Supreme Court.

1984- The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the college saying that only the grant program had to be compliant because the amendment did not clearly state that Grove City College who didn't accept federal funding but it did accept students who were receiving Pell Grants.

1988- In the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, Congresswoman Patsy Mink made an amendment extending Title 9 funding to all educational institutions that accept federal funding directly or indirectly.  

2002- The Title 9 amendment was posthumously changed to the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act for strengthening the law.

The Future

In the current political climate, some observers fear the future of Title 9.  This is a valid concern, as some members of the Trump Administration have questioned the purpose of this amendment. Only time will tell if anything will be done to strip away at the benefits that Title 9 provided to so many.

Title 9 started as an amendment to close the disparity between men and women in educational opportunities and athletic participation.  Today, we see the benefits of  women’s athletics programs in the United States (i.e. Connecticut Women’s Basketball Team, LSU Women's Track Team). Some of these programs are as profitable as many of the men’s programs and have established winning traditions and prestige for their given Universities/College.

Title 9 didn't take away opportunity from male athletes. It did quite the contrary, it gave everyone (young men and women) an opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college experience.  


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