Friday, December 15, 2006

Bonnette Column Takes On Title IX Backlash

Reading Valerie Bonnette's recent column at, I get the sense that she's more than a little bit tired of people blaming Title IX's proportionality prong for debilitating men's sports.

Bonnette, a former OCR official and currently a Title IX consultant, points out that 73% of collegiate athletic departments comply with Title IX by some means other than proportionality-- which generally means prong three, satisfying women students' interests and abilities in athletics. Now that OCR has watered down prong three compliance by allowing schools to relying on responses to an interest survey, we are left with echo chamber enforcement that in Bonnette's words, allows "institution officials to decide for themselves that they comply." Yet groups like IWF and CSC continue to insist that Title IX is forcing schools to eliminate men's teams.

(Of course, this isn't the first time in history that Title IX has been rendered toothless, yet neverthless blamed for reeking havoc on men's sports. As we've recently had the opportunity to recall, most cuts to nonrevenue men's sports like wrestling happened during a period in the statute's history when there was absolutely zero enforcement.)

Schools that forgo the interest survey route (which some would call an end-run) and instead strive for proportionality are making their own choice to commit to the type of equity proportionality requires. In my opinion, and Bonnette's too, this is the right choice, but it's no mere opinion that it is a choice. Schools who make that choice and then invoke the "Title IX made me do it" rhetoric as cover are misleading the anti-Title IX reformers and they're not doing Title IX any favors either.

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