Gender and Intercollegiate Athletics: Data and Myths

This Article explores what nondiscrimination means in the context of intercollegiate athletics. After reviewing the Department of Education’s controversial Title IX Policy Interpretation, it critically examines the analytical framework used in Title IX athletic cases and concludes that commonly made analogies to litigation under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act are inapt. A major part of the Article is an empirical study, looking first at gender equity plans written by institutions of higher education for the National Collegiate Athletic Association and then at data collected from more than 325 institutions pursuant to the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act. Understanding Title IX and its application to intercollegiate athletics is another context in which to work out the meaning of equality. The purpose of college athletics is for students to learn the kinds of discipline, cooperation, and ability to meet challenges that often produce success in later public and private life. Women are disadvantaged because they are seen to lack these qualities. Giving women a chance to show they understand team play and competitive spirit would be a great accomplishment.