US Commission on Civil Rights Endorses Controversial Title IX Model College Athletics Survey

The US Commission on Civil Rights released a report Thursday, encouraging colleges to use the Department of Education’s 2005 model survey. The survey is one of three ways colleges can meet athletics guidelines in accordance with Title IX, a law that prevents sex discrimination in schools receiving federal financial assistance, said USA Today. In a press release (see PDF) the Commission said it considers the survey “the best possible method” to measure women’s (and men’s) interests and abilities in college sports, while also deeming it a way to prevent what seems to be an “unnecessary reduction of men’s athletic opportunities” that may occur if the criteria of proportional representation is used. The Commission is chaired by Gerald Reynolds, who was Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights under Bush’s Education Secretary, Roderick Paige. According to Inside Higher Ed, only four of the eight members of the Commission approved the recommendation, while one member abstained from voting and three other members were absent. Two of the absent voters, Arlan D. Melendez and Michael Yaki, co-wrote a rebuttal to the conclusions. “[B]ecause the process was biased, faulty, and inadequate, it was inevitable that the outcome is misleading.” The National Collegiate Athletics Association Director of public and media relations Erik Christianson told USA Today, “The NCAA remains steadfast against using the 2005 model survey to evaluate the interests and abilities of students on our member campuses.” Due to the NCAA’s long standing objections, few schools have used the survey. In response to the initial release of the model interest survey in 2005, the NCAA News reported that many women’s rights groups objected to the survey’s distribution to incoming female students through e-mail and the Web as a lack of email response would be coded as a lack of interest in sports participation. A year after the compliance survey distribution began, Jocelyn Samuels, then Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women’s Law Center, said in a press release, “the Department of Education has created a gaping hole in Title IX standards by authorizing schools to deny new athletic opportunities based on surveys alone.”


USA Today 4/1/10; US Commission on Civil Rights Press Release 4/1/10; Inside Higher Ed 4/2/10; NCAA News 6/20/05; National Women's Law Center Press Release 3/20/06

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