The co-chairman of the federal commission studying possible Title IX reforms said Saturday “there is no simple answer” for addressing all of those concerned with the impact of his final report on gender equity in college sports.
Ted Leland, Stanford’s athletic director, said the Secretary of Education’s Commission on Opportunity in Athletics is preparing for its Jan. 29-30 conference in Washington, where it will determine the details of a final report due to U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige on Feb. 28.
“There is an interest on the part of some commissioners in making a dramatic proposal,” Leland said after a panel discussion of Title IX at the NCAA convention at the Anaheim Marriott.
Leland declined to address many specifics about the commission’s work, although it’s no secret the primary focus of the commission is a possible adjustment to one of the three prongs of compliance, the proportionality prong. University athletic departments can comply with Title IX by having a proportional percentage of women athletes and women students.
“This is so complicated, with such diverse institutions and you’re charged with trying to get them all to squeeze into this same round hole,” Leland said. “We say it helps for our schools to be better educated and better communicate, but you can say that about the nuclear proliferation treaty too.”
The strongest supporters of Title IX, a federal law in existence since 1972, argue that weakening the proportionality prong would severely weaken the law. Others, particularly those from men’s sports programs whose scholarships or programs have been reduced as part of Title IX adherence, say change is necessary.
“We deny opportunities every day at our schools, from this to the kid who can’t get into his second-year accounting class because it’s full,” Leland said. “No matter what we come up with, there will be people who aren’t happy with it and who didn’t like the process.”