Thursday, March 12, 2009

Weatherford College to Survey Student Interest in Athletics

We have been following OCR's investigation into a complaint against Weatherford College in Texas that it fails to accommodate the interests and abilities of both sexes in compliance with Title IX. (For prior posts, see here and here.) Weatherford's athletic offerngs include one coed team (rodeo), men's and women's basketball, and men's baseball. The result was that men had nearly double the percentage of athletic opportunities, despite being a minority among the student body.

OCR has recently announced that it is terminating its investigation "based on the college's commitment to take action." According to the Weatherford Democrat,
[T]he college has agreed to develop policies and procedures to ensure appropriate information is collected and reviewed on an annual basis regarding the athletic interests and abilities of all students. The college also reported it will conduct surveys to determine the unmet athletic interests and abilities in intercollegiate athletics of its female students.

Survey results may lead to a plan to implement a team or teams to meet the interests and abilities of female students. If such a plan calls for additional teams, competition must begin by the 2011-12 academic year.
It thus appears that Weatherford will see if it can satisfy prong three (full and effective accommodation of women's interests and abilities) by relying on the controversial Model Survey. To my knowledge, it is the second school to commit to undertaking an interest survey as a measure of compliance. (See also Western Illinois, as reported here.) I predict that the survey's methodology and fundamental premise (surveying those students who have already enrolled, absence of particular sports notwithstanding) will result in the survey absolving both schools of further compliance obligations, severe disproportionality notwithstanding. But I'm happy to be wrong.