by Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel
National Women’s Law Center
The College Sports Council (CSC) released a study last week claiming that Title IX has hurt men’s soccer. Sadly, the study is just another version of the same old attacks that the CSC and similar groups have launched against Title IX in the courts and in the media for many years—attacks that have been unanimously rejected.
In their latest study, the CSC compares the participation numbers and scholarship limits for males and females in Division I and erroneously claims that the somewhat smaller number of men playing soccer in Division I is the result of a "gender quota." If you’re confused, you’re not alone. There are many pieces of the puzzle that the CSC study conveniently omits.
First, Title IX does not tell schools what sports to offer and it does not set quotas for the number of women and men who can play. Instead, schools decide what sports and how many opportunities to provide to their students, and Title IX simply requires that schools treat their male and female students equally. Second, the elephant in the room that CSC ignores is football and basketball, which together consume three-fourths of the entire men's athletic budget at Division I-A institutions. In addition, men alone are eligible for 85 football scholarships, the highest by far for any sport. So claiming that men are somehow getting the short end of the stick is simply false. Moreover, if certain men’s sports do not believe they are getting sufficient opportunities or resources, they should approach their schools to talk about how sports are prioritized in the men’s program.
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Finally, a look at data from Divisions I, II and III shows that there are 23,357 women and 21,601 men playing soccer at NCAA institutions, and numbers for other sports show more men than women playing. These overall numbers still show males getting many more opportunities to play than females, and they have nothing to do with whether particular institutions are treating their male and female students equally in terms of opportunities to play sports.
Clearly it’s easier to scapegoat Title IX than to advocate that schools change their priorities, but it is not fair to female students who still do not enjoy a level playing field, or to male students looking for an answer to their concerns, because attacking Title IX is not it. Our nation’s youth would be better served if CSC and others would stop playing the blame game.