More Women Play College Sports, Yet Inequity Persists

A recent Chronicle of Higher Education study of U.S. women’s participation in collegiate sports yielded both positive and negative results. The good news is that more women college students are participating in sports programs. The bad news is that women’s numbers still lag far behind men’s, and that men’s athletic programs still continue to receive more institutional funding and support than do women’s.

The study was based on 306 reports issued by Division I colleges and universities under the 1996 Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act. Four of Division I’s 310 schools failed to provide the Chronicle of Higher Education with these reports after repeated requests. They included Alabama State University, Jackson State University, Oral Roberts University, and the University of the Pacific.

During the 1997-1998 school year, women made up 53% of Division I undergraduates, and 40% of Division I athletes, up from 35% in 1996-1997. While forty percent of available athletic scholarship funds were allocated to women athletes (up from 14% from the previous year), only 32% of recruiting funds and 36% of total operating budgets were reserved for their use. In perhaps the most disappointing finding, the coaches of women’s teams took home only 28% of the total funds reserved for coaching salaries.

The percentage of women athletes at Division I-A and Division I-AA schools with football teams was the lowest — at 38 and 37%, respectively — most likely because football teams are so large. Division I-A football teams often have 100 or more players, 85 of whom are granted scholarships. Division I-AA teams typically have 80 players each and award 63 scholarships. At Division I-AAA schools, which do not have football teams, women made up 47% of all student athletes.

The Office for Civil Rights Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendment considers schools to be compliance with Title IX if the school passes any one of 3 standards concerning the amount of scholarship money awarded women’s programs, the percentage of women athletes in relation to the number of women students, and the allocation of resources including facilities, coaching, and equipment.


Chronicle of Higher Education - May 21, 1999 issue

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