As the Title IX celebrations continue . . .

A garden variety Title IX panel discussion at Wellesley College this week received the garden variety write-up from the Boston Globe.

Meanwhile, five high school districts in Wisconsin are being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for alleged athletic disparities for females.

Expect much more of the same during this 40th anniversary year of the passage of the law.

What you should not expect are many nuanced discussions and observations that incorporate the complexities and difficulties of complying with an ambiguously written law from any other point of view than a once-aggrieved gender that supposedly thinks entirely alike on the subject.

Yet we all know that Title IX sports compliance has had an effect on others that is not always a positive one, especially young male athletes in certain sports. This is because the law, as it pertains to the 3-part sports test, is being interpreted by the courts in a manner far removed from its original intent.

Female athletes, their coaches and teams didn’t always enjoy what they have now, thanks largely to Title IX. But as I argued in my women’s sports series last year, we’re in a post-revolutionary phase of Title IX because the status of women in American society is in a post-feminist stage. This is heresy to some.

But revolutionary rhetoric and actions do draw our attention. Yesterday, Quinnipiac University in Connecticut fired its women’s volleyball coach who alleged Title IX violations several years ago when the school tried dropping the program in favor of cheerleading. A federal judge declared cheerleading not to be a sport for Title IX calculations, and volleyball survived.

But it did not thrive, as coach Robin Lamott Sparks compiled a five-year record of 20-133. The school contends it was not the Title IX litigation that led to her dismissal, which reportedly included her being escorted from campus. There’s the counterargument that how could a program succeed when the university tried to kill it?

Yet on-the-job performance is not often a factor in Title IX retaliation lawsuits, as evidenced by the rather nasty saga of women coaches and administrators at Fresno State from nearly a decade ago.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Quinnipiac is the next battleground for retaliation ligitation, which along with high school lawsuits figure to be where the main sports-related Title IX battles will be fought for years to come.

Regarding Title IX in general, the hothouse topic is sexual harassment, and the epicenter for the last year has been at Yale University.

The most recent twist includes sexual assault allegations against Yale quarterback Patrick Witt that affected his Rhodes scholarship application. Media reporting on that saga has drawn the attention of K.C. Johnson, a noted professor/crusader/blogger from the Duke lacrosse scandal.

The Women’s Sports Foundation is stepping into these murky waters, favoring a controversial “Dear Colleague” letter from the OCR on campus sexual harassment. This goes far beyond sports, and not all feminists agree with proposed intervention that has some serious free speech implications.

The WSF has co-written a pledge of support of the OCR declaration with a newly formed group known as the Association of Title IX Administrators, who are charged with compliance of the law beyond sports. Does WSF really want to get tangled up with this issue, which is only indirectly connected to sports and which could become very divisive? Is this primarily about showing solidarity with establishment feminist groups?

More on this this potentially disturbing action by the WSF in future posts.

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One Comment

  1. Bern
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    A few observations:

    – Any head coach with a record of 20-133 over five years should expect to be fired. Only in the perverse world of Title IX litigation threats or actual lawsuits would anyone have an issue with letting an underperforming coach like this go. A 13.9% winning percentage?!?! I see they did win the sportsmanship award though.

    – The Association of Title IX Administrations (ATIXA) was formed as a non-profit by a grant from The National Center for Higher Education Risk Management (NCHERM), a for profit law firm whose business model primarily focuses on Title IX risk assessment consulting and litigation to & with Colleges and Universities. The fact that such a blatant business development front can legally be created as a non-profit for by law firm that makes it’s money suing primarily taxpayer supported entities is telling. No big surprise that the WSF is signed up.

    The most positive thing that can be said is that the constant and well documented overreaching by the Title IX academic, governmental and for-profit legal industries will ultimately be undone when more reasonable people, like yourself, show truth to power.