Saturday, July 18, 2015

OCR and Fayetteville State Enter Resolution Agreement over Athletics Complaint

The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has reportedly entered into a resolution agreement with Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, resolving a Title IX complaint that alleged inequitable treatment of women's sports.  The complaint was filed by the parent of a former softball player whose chief concern was a disparity in access to the trainer and other medical care. The resolution agreement requires FSU to assess compliance with Title IX's requirement for equal treatment regarding equipment and supplies, scheduling for games and practices, travel and per diem allowance,opportunities for coaching and academic tutoring, assignment and compensation of coaches and tutors, provision of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities, provision of medical and training facilities and services, provision of housing and dining facilities, and publicity. The university has a 2018 deadline to correct disparities revealed by the assessment. 
The complainant was pleased about the agreement but was also quoted as questioning why university officials "weren't making decisions [about compliance] all along?"  It seems she shares my frustration for this weak, generic version of Title IX enforcement that lets universities get away with avoiding compliance until a resolution agreement occurs.  Title IX regulations about equal treatment have been on the books since 1975. The time to "start" the process of compliance was forty years ago.

Also, the resolution agreement apparently does not address the disparity in the number of athletic opportunities for male and female students, at least, no mention of that appears in the article linked above.  This omission is noteworthy because according to public data, FSU's student body is 67% female, but women receive only 69 out of the university's 179 athletic opportunities -- under 39%.