Text of A Letter to the President
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to express our strong support for existing Title IX regulations and policies governing participation in athletics and to urge you to reject any recommendations made by the Commission on Athletic Opportunity to change the Title IX athletics policies and regulations. We believe that the recommendations would dismantle Title IX protections and dramatically reduce the sports participation opportunities and scholarships to which women.
The Commission's recommendations, which focus on changes to the three-part test, would result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of athletics opportunities for women and girls. For example, under one of the proposals, schools could restrict their female students to 47% of the athletics opportunities and scholarships no matter how large the percentage of women in the student body or how many want to play. It is estimated that women at a typical Division I-A school would lose 50,000 participation opportunities and $122 million in scholarships under this proposal. Another proposal Other proposals would allow schools to manipulate the way they count their male and female students and athletes in order to artificially deflate the number of male athletes and inflate the number of female athletes. Thus, the recommendations approved by the Commission would weaken Title IX and reduce, rather than increase, opportunities for women and girls to participate in athletics.
Indeed, strong enforcement of existing Title IX policies is critical to combat continuing discrimination against women in athletics programs. For example, although women in Division I colleges comprise 53% of the student body, they receive only 41% of the opportunities to play intercollegiate sports; 43% of athletic scholarship dollars; 36% of athletic operating budgets; and 32% of the dollars spent to recruit new athletes. Disparities also persist at the high school level, where female athletes comprise only 42% of the students involved in school-sponsored sports, and anecdotal evidence and court cases strongly suggest that male and female athletes are not treated equally.
What is necessary is strengthened enforcement - not modification -- of the Department of Education's athletics policies. The Department should focus its resources on providing enhanced technical assistance, based on and consistent with the current existing Department guidance, on the means by which schools can comply with all aspects of Title IX, including the three-part test. Such enhanced technical assistance would provide a valuable service to schools that continue to lag behind in providing equal athletics opportunities for women and girls.
It is clear that the public overwhelmingly supports strong enforcement of existing Title IX standards. A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll done in January 2003 found that 7 of ten adults familiar with Title IX think the law should be strengthened or left alone. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll done the same month found that 66% of Americans go so far as to favor cutting men's teams in order to ensure equal athletics opportunities for women.
Congress enacted Title IX in 1972 to address widespread sex discrimination against women in athletics and all other aspects of their education. After 30 years of Title IX, women and girls now have greater opportunities to play sports, receive scholarships, and obtain other important benefits that flow from sports participation. But much work remains to achieve gender equity in athletics programs. Like every past Administration, both Republican and Democratic, we urge you to reaffirm the current athletics policies and to reject any changes to those policies proposed by the Commission.
United States Senators Tom Daschle, Edward Kennedy, Patty Murray, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, & Patrick Leahy.