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June 20, 2012

Time hasn’t ended legal furor over Title IX

(Continued)

Title IX supporters argue it's not the law that forces schools to cut their men's sports programs. Former Olympic swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar, now senior advocacy director for the Women's Sports Foundation, said school administrators find it more convenient to blame Title IX than to take on the real culprit: high-cost football and men's basketball programs, which eat up a disproportionate amount of sports budgets.

"Schools decide where they spend their money," said Hogshead-Makar. "Often, when they decide to cut some of their men's sports, it's not so they can fund women's sports. It's so they can pump money into football and men's basketball."

The latest data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association shows that on the college level, there are more women's teams than men's. But over the last 30 years, men’s and women’s teams have both risen. Today, there are 186,460 female student-atheletes on 9,660 teams in the NCAA; there are 249,307 male student-athletes on 8,530 teams.

"There are still more opportunities for men than women in sports," asserts Hogshead-Makar.

‘It only happens if you sue’

Some of the toughest critics of Title IX enforcement are the biggest supporters of the law. They argue federal regulators don't do enough to push schools into compliance.

Pollick works with The National Women's Law Center, which filed lawsuits last year against a dozen school districts around the nation, claiming they were noncompliant. Law center officials argue that the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, the Title IX enforcer, has allowed cases of suspected discrimination to linger for years without resolution.

Schools found in violation of Title IX risk losing their federal funds. But that punishment has never been used. More typically, federal regulators ask schools to investigate themselves and come up with a self-prescribed remedy.

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