The Supreme Court last week rejected an appeal by male athletes from Illinois State University, which recently eliminated the men’s wrestling and soccer teams in an effort to balance opportunities for both men and women in the university’s sports system. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which was gutted by the Supreme Court in 1982 and restored by Congressional Act in 1986, is a major feminist victory that has banned gender discrimination in federally funded educational institutions. Under Title IX, women’s and girls’ opportunities in sports have increased enormously, but the amount of money directed to men’s and boys’ sports has also risen substantially. Women’s sports still receive less than 1/3 of the operating costs that men’s sports receive on the university level. The recruiting budget for women’s sports is only 30% of the recruiting budget for male sports, and a female coach receives only 34% of a male coach’s annual salary. (For more information on gender inequity in sports programs in colleges and universities, please see Welch Suggs, “Uneven Progress for Women’s Sports.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. April 7, 2000.)
The University of Illinois argued in the case that eliminating the men’s teams was a means to bring about gender equity in the institution’s sports programs. Since the passage of Title IX, feminists have held that the standard for compliance should always be to lift women’s sports to parity with men’s, and not to decrease men’s sports. Feminists have won every major Title IX case since 1986. Popular support for Title IX has also risen dramatically.